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Commune chief up on lumber charges

Commune chief up on lumber charges

An opposition commune chief police say was caught red-handed transporting a load of illegal luxury timber in Ratanakkiri province destined for Vietnam has found little support from his party.

Sev Nhang, a Sam Rainsy Party chief of Pate commune in O’Yadav district, was arrested at about 8pm on Wednesday night by military police while driving his Toyota Camry toward the border, O’Yadav district police chief Ma Vichet said.

“He was transporting 23 pieces of timber, but I don’t know the size of the timber. Only the forestry officers know because they are cooperating,” he said.

Eam Oeun, a Cambodia National Rescue Party representative in Ratanakkiri province, said the party could not get involved in the case but would be reporting the details to higher levels.

“The commune chief [Sev Nhang] used to seize other people’s timber and to sell it to other people. He had been a timber businessman for ages,” he said.

Nhang’s phone was switched off yesterday.

Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said it was widely known Nhang had been a timber trader but that crackdowns on illegal trading seemed confined to opposition perpetrators.

“But a lot of timber is transported across O’Yadav district – Ratanakkiri province does not have effective crackdowns.”

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