Two men were arrested Friday by Pursat Provincial Military Police for allegedly logging in a protected area, only to be released yesterday at the request of the provincial Military Police commander, officials said yesterday.
The men were identified as Oum Ngat Say, 18, and Sou Chan, 32, from Veun Sai district in Ratanakkiri province, according to a statement from the National Police. The men were using two chainsaws to cut down large, first-grade Reach Kol trees in the Cardamon Mountains in Pursat province’s Veal Veng district.
Sou Sovandy, deputy provincial Military Police commander, said it was unlikely that the men would be sent to court.
“I heard that my boss [the provincial commander] advised to have them educated,” he said, adding the men were asked to sign a contract promising not to repeat the offence.
Provincial Military Police Commander Uk Samon confirmed the two men were released yesterday morning because they were poor villagers from an ethnic Jarai community.
“They were educated and released,” he said. “[There was] no . . . punishment because they are absolutely poor.”
He added that the men had been employed by others, and that authorities are searching for their employer or those behind the illegal logging.
Pan Morakat, director of the provincial Environment Department, which oversees the protected area, declined to comment yesterday.