The Cambodian Red Cross, headed by First Lady Bun Rany, issued a statement yesterday denying that a vehicle emblazoned with the CRC logo and loaded with illegal timber belonged to the organisation, after the truck was reportedly stopped in Siem Reap province on Tuesday.
In a letter dated yesterday, the CRC condemned the suspects, who fled the scene, and said they had “violated the national law and used a CRC flag and logo, which affected the honour and reputation of the Cambodian Red Cross”.
The statement came after Forestry Administration officials in Siem Reap confiscated 4,673 cubic metres of luxury timber from the lorry on Tuesday but failed to capture two suspects, who ran into the forest.
CRC deputy secretary general Men Neary Sopheak said yesterday that the CRC in Siem Reap had filed a complaint to provincial police in connection with the incident.
“It’s the first time that authorities have confiscated a truck with the CRC name,” she said. “It’s a national crime and we have laws to crackdown on the perpetrators.”
Provincial Forestry Administration director Tea Kimsoth said the incident marked the first time in Siem Reap that the CRC logo had been used in connection with illegal logging, adding that authorities were still searching for the suspects involved.
“We chased the vehicle, but the driver and his partner knew we were chasing them, so they fled into the forest, leaving only the [vehicle] and the timber,” he said.
A 2007 report from the watchdog group Global Witness claimed that numerous associates of Prime Minsiter Hun Sen and First Lady Bun Rany were involved in illegal logging, although the couple themselves were not implicated.