The son of a district military police commander in Battambang province was caught by forest rangers while allegedly transporting luxury timber yesterday morning.
Reuy Kakada, 15, the teenage son of Samlot district deputy military police commander Chhoeun Sophat, was detained along with his assistant, Heng Virak, 28, while transporting 20 logs of thnong and beng timber, according to Chan Socheat of the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which runs forestry patrols in the area.
“We spent all night waiting for the vehicle and it finally appeared at 4am . . . The vehicle passed us and we chased after it for about 1 kilometre. Then we managed to overtake it and stopped our car in front of them,” he said.
The timber was destined for Battambang town, he added.
Thorn Kimhong, director of the Samlot protected area, said the two men were being interrogated and had been informed that they had broken the law on protected areas.
“They hauled the timber from the protected area without having permission. By law, they can be fined from 1 million to 10 million riel [about $250 to $2,500].
However, if they refuse to pay the fine, we will forward their case to the courts,” he said.
As the driver was under-age and was not transporting timber specifically prohibited by law, such as Siamese rosewood, criminal proceedings would not be initiated, Kimhong added.
Sophat, the military police chief, had called the rangers to negotiate a settlement following the incident, he said, and to request his son’s release.
The commander has denied any connection to involvement in illegal timber dealing.