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Nine officials summoned

Nine administrative forestry officials have been called for questioning in connection with the illegal transport of timber and untaxed goods in an area spanning Kampong Chhnang and Pursat provinces.

The order was made after Kampong Chhnang Anti-Economic Crime police intercepted a truck on January 26 loaded with timber and furniture that came from Pursat’s Veal Veng district and was headed to Phnom Penh.

During a search, officers found a list of 50 involved authorities, who allegedly received money from the timber and goods carried by the truck. The nine forestry officials, who originate from Pursat’s Veal Veng, Phnom Kravanh and Krakor districts, were included on the list.

“Until now, we are waiting to see whether the officials are involved in the above crime or not and . . . [if] the forestry administration will take measures against these officials if they were found involved in the crime,” said Phorn Chea, a forestry activist in Pursat’s Krokor district.

Cheng Kim Sun, director of Cambodia’s Forestry Administration, said that so far, “we have yet to see any report from the director of the south Tonle Sap lake [region] about the case of summonsing the listed officers”.

“The list . . . is not enough to incriminate or assume that those officials actually have committed the offenses. However, we cannot forgive or tolerate it if the listed officers . . . [were] involved.”

According to Phuong Sothea, provincial coordinator of rights group Adhoc, the illegal transport of timber happens in the area every day. He said, however, that drivers of vehicles used for illegal transport are mostly the ones implicated for the crime and that it’s rare to have authorities arrest the masterminds.

“I believe that the National Forestry Administration does know about the illegal transport and knows who is behind it,” Sothea said.

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