An illegal timber transporter was killed and his assistant injured after their car crashed while ferrying a load in Siem Reap’s Sonikum district on Sunday morning, according to local police.
The car was carrying 15 logs of Sokroam timber toward Siem Reap when it veered into a nearby canal, said Sothnikum district police chief, Tep Channa, after consulting community members at the site.
Channa added that there were no obvious wounds on the victim’s body and that he had likely died from head trauma after being struck by logs during the crash.
The driver’s body was taken to his home in Chong Kavsou village, but Sothnikum district governor Mork Bros, said that his injured assistant had escaped the scene in a taxi before the ambulance arrived to avoid being caught by local forestry officials.
“The timber is illegal and they paid money to people for it. We are searching for the assistant for questioning about the event,” he said.
Further unconfirmed reports were made of a car chase prior to the accident, which has lead local authorities to speculate that the victim was being pursued by either “journalists” or forestry officials, though the Post could not confirm the allegations.
While no witnesses were present, but Tea Kimsoth, Siem Reap provincial forestry administration director, yesterday denied that officials from his department were involved.
“Some Siem Reap journalists chase timber loads with their cars, but our forestry officers only have pickups,” he said, noting that there were some 200 self-described journalists in the province who often attempt to intercept illegal timber trading to report to police.