The owners of Hong Sopheap Development Company in Preah Vihear have been arrested days after military police carried out a massive raid on a 4,000 hectare social land concession (SLC) that the company holds a licence to log.
Military police spokesman Eng Hy confirmed the arrests, adding that two employees had also been arrested. Hy did not name those arrested, but the Ministry of Commerce’s corporate database lists the company’s directors as Bun Hong and Say Sopheap. All four stand accused of illegally logging in protected forests bordering the SLC. Sunday’s raid was the first time helicopters had been deployed by the military police in an anti-logging action, which saw three choppers accompanying 200 ground troops.
Preah Vihear Provincial Governor Un Chanda said the company was granted the licence to clear the SLC in 2015 to make way for housing for soldiers from Brigade 7, but that local authorities were tipped off that it was overstepping its bounds after felled timber was discovered by authorities in a nearby conservation area.
“We verified that timber felled by the company [outside the SLC] was being kept on their premises among leftover scraps of wood,” Chanda said. “We [also] found 90 pieces of wood in the conservation area near the temple.”
Meanwhile, in Ratanakkiri province, military police confiscated 200 pieces of luxury timber en-route to Vietnam in O’Yadav district’s Sesan commune on Wednesday, according to the national military police news wire.