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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Several luxury-wood busts conducted over weekend

People stand on piles of illegal lumber at a sawmill in Prey Veng province during a raid of the property late last week. National Police
People stand on piles of illegal lumber at a sawmill in Prey Veng province during a raid of the property late last week. National Police

Several luxury-wood busts conducted over weekend

Police have made a series of busts of illegal first-grade timber in recent days, including one involving a sawmill that had been licensed by the government two weeks ago to resume its wood-processing activities.

Some 500 cubic metres of timber were discovered at the Sre Pok Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri’s Koh Nhek district during a joint operation by Mondulkiri provincial authorities that lasted from Friday until yesterday, according to the provincial court’s chief prosecutor, Long Hokmeng.

“The authorities who went down found about 500 cubic metres. We have not received the clear report yet . . . maybe Monday or Tuesday,” he said, adding that the investigations came after a tip-off from an official who had spotted some timber at the location.

In a separate case, 89 pieces of illegal first-grade timber were seized on Thursday at PSKV Construction Company, a sawmill that had been licensed to process wood for Yellow Field, a Kampong Speu economic land concession (ELC) granted by the government for sugarcane production.

“I went there since early last week. We found more than 80 pieces of illegal wood totalling to over 26 cubic metres in the company complex without permission,” Kampong Speu provincial prosecutor Keo Sothea said.

A provincial environmental organisation officer, who asked to remain anonymous, said that Yellow Field had gained land concessions from the government and employed the help of PSKV, a sawmill located inside the ELC, to clear the forest and process wood for it.

“PSKV carried that wood from the Cardamom Mountains and brought them to Yellow Field, so it would belong to Yellow Field and avoid confiscation by patrolling authorities,” he said.

According to a document from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries dated September 6 and obtained by the anonymous officer, the ministry recently renewed PSKV’s licence – which had expired in October 2013 – authorising its wood-processing activities.

“The ministry has decided to allow the PSKV to continue its operation as a sawmill to process wood resources for Yellow Field for nine more months,” it reads.

“They will use this licence to continue taking wood from the southern and middle Cardamom Mountains and placing it in [Yellow Field] to make it legal,” the anonymous officer said. “They use military trucks to transport that wood so no one dares to do anything against them.”

Contact information for PSKV and Yellow Field could not be obtained yesterday.

Meanwhile, in still more cases, the Forestry Administration seized 93 pieces of first-grade timber in Banteay Meanchey’s Malai district yesterday, and dozens of pieces of illegal wood spilled out of a truck after it crashed in Prey Veng province on Friday.

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