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Officials accused in logging

A LOCAL organisation has accused Kampong Speu’s provincial governor and top military commander of involvement in illegal logging and plans to file complaints with the Anticorruption Unit next week.

Chea Hean, director of the National Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organisation, a national watchdog, said he had evidence that governor Kang Heang and military commander Chhim Bunthoeun had approved illegal timber operations in Phnom Srouch and Oral districts. In particular, he cited correspondence between the two authorising the military to log 350 cubic metres of timber in the two districts.

In two letters sent to Kang Heang in December 2008, copies of which have been obtained by the Post, Chhim Bunthoen requested permission to harvest the wood in order to build a shelter at the provincial military headquarters.

“[Military officials] said this timber would be taken to build a shelter inside the military fort, but when I went to check in the fort, there was no timber there,” Chea Hean said.

“I am preparing the documents to file to the Anticorruption Unit in order to investigate [these claims].”

He said that he was “not scared” of legal retaliation from the officials because he had enough documentation to back up his claims.

Neither Kang Heang nor Chhim Bunthoeun could be reached for comment yesterday. Phnom Srouch district governor Tep Mean said he had seen Kang Heang’s letter authorising the logging, but that there was no wood in his district that would be suitable for building a military facility of that sort.

“Phnom Srouch does not have timber now. I don’t know where they cut it, I just heard that the province allowed logging to build the fort,” he said.

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