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Provincial official in hot water after raid

Military police and forestry officials seized more than 1.3 tonnes of illegal rosewood in a raid on the home of the chief of the Stung Treng Provincial Department of Cults and Religion yesterday, military police said.

“These luxury woods were seized by our authorities from the house of Mr Prum Sarim, who is the chief of Cults and Religion,” said Brigadier General Ork Borin, commander of the Stung Treng Provincial Military Police. “Our authorities have spent many months before we could collect enough information related to this illegal luxury wood stockpiling.”

“We now are still investigating about this case, and are inviting Mr Prum Sarim to explain to our military police about the stockpiling of luxury wood in his house,” he added.

Sarim and his family could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Sar Vuthy, chief of Stung Treng Provincial Forestry Administration, said that the seized wood is being temporarily kept at the administration’s offices for further investigation and research.

“According to our preliminary investigation, the above luxury-grade logs seized did not belong to Mr Prum Sarim, but rather, he had rented his house to the wood business dealers to stock it inside his house,” Vuthy said. “We now are still working on this case, and are seeking the real owner of these luxury woods.”

According to the administration’s research, he added, the wood was transported to Stung Treng town from Siem Pang district to be stockpiled before being moved on to be sold in Vietnam.

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