Two men were charged by Siem Reap Provincial Court yesterday over a petrol tanker loaded with 8 tonnes of Siamese rosewood seized on Sunday, while three men arrested alongside them continue to be questioned, according to Forestry Administration provincial director Tea Kimsoth.
The pair, who Kimsoth did not name but described as “the real perpetrators”, have been charged with illegally transporting timber products and are alleged to have been the tanker’s driver and assistant.
The three still being questioned are alleged to have arrived on the scene shortly after the arrest and tried to talk officials into releasing the driver and assistant along with the tanker. Two of the three claimed to be soldiers from Intervention Brigade 4, Kimsoth said, although officials had yet to verify that claim yesterday afternoon.
He added that the wood is believed to have been en route to Vietnam from Oddar Meanchey when it was intercepted in the early hours of Sunday morning.
According to Vietnamese customs data shared with the Post by NGO Forest Trends, 17 cubic metres of Siamese rosewood were logged as entering Vietnam from Cambodia by Vietnamese customs officials in the first six months of 2016 .
The registered value of the wood was $38,151, although Forest Trends’s Phuc Xuan To noted that traders frequently understate the value of goods to reduce their tax burden.