Siem Reap Provincial Court yesterday charged three men with illegally logging rosewood in the Angkor Archaeological Park and ordered police to look for two additional accomplices.
“The three were charged with logging and collecting a natural resource. Two other men are also suspected to be involved; one escaped from the scene, and another guarded the way for the three to commit the crime,” provincial prosecutor Heng Pheng told the Post.
If found guilty of logging top-grade rosewood, the suspects face between five and 10 years in prison, according to Article 93 of the Law on Forestry.
Park authorities say the five loggers included father and son snail vendors Hin Run, 53, and Sum Phirak, 20, as well as Phay Sophea, 20, a Mr Hun, 25, and one unknown man. The group allegedly snuck into the park and cut a five-metre rosewood tree about 11:30pm on Monday.
The 20-centimetre-thick tree was allegedly trimmed into four planks to be carried out of the park on the back of the loggers’ motorbikes.
The three suspects in police custody admitted that they could sell the rosewood to a trader for between $6 and $7 per kilogram, Man Chhoeurn, a park police official, said.
“We work both day and night to take care of temples, visitors, ancient temple stones and the forests, especially at night, because there are many rosewood trees,” he said.
He added that rosewood is becoming less and less common, so loggers have taken to risking getting caught inside the Angkor Archaeological Park.
Three cases of attempted logging in the park were recorded this year.