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Choeung Theng (pictured) after being detained over the weekend for the destruction of a bridge in Kampot Province. National Police
Choeung Theng (pictured) after being detained over the weekend for the destruction of a bridge in Kampot Province. National Police

Soldier arrested over broken bridge in Kampot

Military police arrested a soldier, Choeung Theng, 33, on Saturday in Kampong Speu province over the destruction of a Kampot province bridge a week before.

The Chhouk district bridge collapsed under the weight of a truck overloaded with timber on June 10.

“[Theng] was arrested for breaking the bridge and was sent to the provincial court,” said national military police spokesman Eng Hy.

Theng was also accused two weeks ago of being a member of an illegal timber smuggling ring by Natural Resources and Wildlife Preservation Organization director Chea Hean.

Theng refused to reveal his occupation, Hy said, but a Kampot Provincial Court warrant, dated June 16 and signed by prosecutor Ek Chheng Huot ordering military police to arrest him for allegedly breaking the Kampot province bridge, identified him as a major in Region 3.

Chhum Socheat, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said this would not be the first time soldiers were involved with smuggling timber. There had been many cases, and they had been arrested and faced charges, he said.

Hean, who is “investigating relevant authorities that allow people to smuggle timber”, said people involved with illegal logging included those in the Forestry Administration, the military police, environment officials, local police and soldiers.

Last week, Hean called on Prime Minister Hun Sen to clamp down on timber smuggling by state officials. He said the smugglers continued to transport wood from Kampong Speu, Veal Veng and Phnom Kravanh districts into Vietnam.

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