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Ratanakkiri official’s son’s SUV packed with rosewood

Military police on Tuesday evening seized some 40 logs of rosewood allegedly belonging to a powerful official’s son in Ratanakkiri province, authorities said yesterday.

Military police intercepted a black Land Cruiser loaded with the rosewood on National Road 78 in O’Yadav district’s Pak Nhai commune, but the driver managed to escape, according to District Governor Mar Vichet.

“The officers stopped [the car] not far from the Cambodia-Vietnam border,” said Vichet. “We were told that the timber belongs to a man called Chhay. It was given to the Forestry Administration soon after the arrest.”

Vichet said that he was not aware of the timber’s source. However, a provincial authority officer speaking on condition of anonymity said that the rosewood belonged to a powerful official’s son in Ratanakkiri province and that much of the police force there was afraid to touch him.

“The Land Cruiser transported timber to sell in Vietnam many times but they only cracked down on it just now,” said the anonymous officer. “We find it hard to fulfil our duties because everything is under their authority and group.”

Sok Min, a district military police commander of O’Yadav and Keb Kort, the provincial administration director, both declined to comment about the case.

Kim Raksmey, a provincial military police commander, said he was on duty outside the province during the stop and was not informed about the case. He added that the Land Cruiser has been sent to the provincial Forestry Administration office.

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