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Villagers nab logging truck

In the latest case involving illegal logging in Mondulkiri’s Sen Monorom district, two indigenous communities filed a lawsuit against three unidentified illegal loggers after confiscating a truck laden with luxury wood on Saturday, a rights monitor and villagers said yesterday.

About 50 villagers turned over the truck – piled with 43 pieces of confiscated wood – to officials manning the provincial Department of Environment on Sunday, Sok Ratha, a provincial coordinator for Adhoc, said.

“The [confiscated] timber and truck are evidence of forest crime that villagers are cracking down on, and now locals are asking the court to find the suspects and stop the logging to protect their forest,” Ratha said, adding that Adhoc had provided legal assistance and filed the lawsuit with the provincial court yesterday.

However, environmental officials have yet to officially note the handover of the truck and timber, Ratha said.

Trucks lumbering through the dwindling forests of Sen Monorom are nothing new, said Khveung Tum, 42, one of the locals involved in filing the lawsuit.

“We are preparing to set up a road block to stop these trucks from taking [illegal] timber through our village,” Tum said, adding that four or five trucks carrying wood cut through her village on a daily basis.

In a separate incident in Keo Seima’s Memang commune, villagers discovered the logs of 25 felled luxury trees stashed in community forest on Saturday – a cache they promptly burned, said Sren Sraoth, a leader among community forest patrollers there.

Chit Sophal, director of the provincial environment department, said yesterday that he was not aware of either incident.

But Keb Kort, director of the provincial forestry administration, said yesterday that villagers should rely on authorities to intervene before destroying evidence of illegal logging.

“They should have cooperated with authorities to crack down on forest crime,” Kort said, adding that he would look into both cases.



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