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Authorities seize illegal timber allegedly belonging to Lieutenant General Chheng Long in Kampong Speu province last month. Photo supplied

Police nab timber warehouse boss

The manager of an illegal timber warehouse owned by Lieutenant General Chheng Long was arrested in Kampong Speu on Wednesday, although Long and his son-in-law remain at large.

Arrest warrants were issued for Long, a deputy district military police chief, and his son-in-law Sy Sar on April 10, after authorities found illegal timber on Long’s property in March.

Kampong Speu provincial military police arrested suspect Veasna Phanthana, 33, on Wednesday evening for “transporting and collecting timber and forest products without permission”.

“He was arrested in Oral district yesterday and he was sent to the court based on the court’s warrant,” said Tith Vannak, head of the crime office for Kampong Speu’s provincial military police, before hanging up.

Keo Sothea, provincial prosecutor, said briefly that Phanthana was sent to provincial prison for pre-trial detention yesterday.

Chea Hean, director of the Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organisation, said that Phanthana has been working with Long since 2007, allegedly purchasing illegal timber in Pursat province, which was then sold locally.

“They arrested [Phanthana] to elicit the answers leading to the arrest of Chheng Long and Sy Sar. They are in the same group. [Phanthana] is Long’s chief of staff,” Hean said.

Hean claimed the timber was logged from the Cardamom protected area in collusion with Pursat provincial police.

Hean and a court official both confirmed that there are outstanding warrants for the arrests of Long and Sar, but Hean claimed Long is hiding in Phnom Penh while Sar had already fled to Vietnam.

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