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Ex-military police officer arrested in Mondulkiri

Former military police officer Sou Marith (center right) stands with authorities yesterday in Mondulkiri province after he was arrested for the transportation of illegal timber. Photo supplied
Former military police officer Sou Marith (center right) stands with authorities yesterday in Mondulkiri province after he was arrested for the transportation of illegal timber. Photo supplied

Ex-military police officer arrested in Mondulkiri

Notorious former military police officer and purported illegal-timber trader Sou Marith was apprehended yesterday morning along with three other men while allegedly transporting timber in Mondulkiri’s Keo Seima district.

According to provincial criminal investigation office chief Vong Rochana, O’Raing and Keo Seima district military police forces intercepted a black Lexus suspected of hauling illegal timber in Sre Khtum commune’s Om Am village.

“The car set off from O’Raing district and it was intercepted in Keo Seima district. There were eight huge pieces of thnong [wood] and four people in the car,” he said, naming the suspects as Marith, Seng Putra, 29, Preang Manet, 34, and Srom Many, 17.

“They did not resist during the arrest,” he said, adding that a lawsuit has been forwarded to the Forestry Administration.

The Mondulkiri Provincial Court has previously issued two arrest warrants for 45-year-old Marith for forestry crimes and illegal arms possession. The first, stemming from a May 2014 incident in which Marith levelled a gun at the head of the Keo Seima district governor, Sinn Vannvuth, when Marith’s timber-laden Lexus was intercepted.

The second warrant was issued in February after authorities followed a car loaded with timber to Marith’s home, where the ex-cop fired warning shots at authorities before he escaped.

Chea Sovanthet, Mondulkiri provincial deputy prosecutor, said yesterday that Marith was still being questioned at the Forestry Administration office and officials had not decided which of the three crimes they would charge Marith with first.

“He has many cases [offenses], so I do not know which one yet,” he said.

Provincial Forestry Administration director Vong Sokserey said that Marith claimed the timber confiscated yesterday was “just for personal use”.

Keo Seima district governor Sin Vannvuth, who once had Marith’s gun pointed at his head, yesterday said he hoped the court would find justice.

“For this case, the court will take care of it and find justice, because we cannot do anything [ourselves] directly out of the court system,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kratie military police intercepted six vans loaded with 539 illegally logged pepper posts in Snuol district on Tuesday, though the drivers managed to escape, according to the Forestry Administration website.

Local Forestry Administration official Thu Vichet said the confiscated posts are in his office while case documents are prepared.

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