Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Five charged over felling of old rosewood tree at Angkor

Five charged over felling of old rosewood tree at Angkor

Pieces of a rosewood tree are unloaded from a truck at a Siem Reap pagoda on Wednesday after the Apsara Authority felled it earlier in the week. Photo supplied
Pieces of a rosewood tree are unloaded from a truck at a Siem Reap pagoda on Wednesday after the Apsara Authority felled it earlier in the week. Photo supplied

Five charged over felling of old rosewood tree at Angkor

Two high-ranking officials from the Apsara Authority and three contractors were yesterday charged with forestry crimes and sent to pre-trial detention for cutting down a century-old rosewood tree at the Angkor Archaeological Park – a move that sparked public outcry.

Two of the suspects – Apsara’s deputy chief for forestry Chhor Thanat and the chief of its internal office for forestry administration, Chev Phal – were additionally charged with being the instigators of the crime under Article 28 of the Criminal Code, said Siem Reap Provincial Court spokesman Riem Chanmuny.

All five were charged with “forest destruction” under Article 98 of the Law on Forestry, Chanmuny explained. The article says the offence is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to 100 million riel, or about $24,500.

The three contractors – Khann Nhek, 40, Touch Nethra, 40, and Lay Chheat, 32 – also worked in the authority’s forestry administration office, said Tea Kimsoth, the director of the provincial Forestry Administration office.

Deputy provincial police chief Peung Chandareth, who oversees criminal cases, said that investigating judge Koy Sao decided to send all five suspects to the provincial prison pending their trials.

The arrests of the five, which took place on Wednesday, came after Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered Siem Reap Governor Khim Bunsong to apprehend all those involved in cutting down the tree after the local public uproar over it spread to social media.

The Apsara Authority – which oversees the Angkor park – said on Sunday that it cut down the 90-centimetre-thick tree after finding it had been partially sawn into by others, and wanted to prevent it from falling on pedestrians or being seized by illegal loggers who returned for the wood.

However, Nou Puthik, a monitor with local rights group Licadho in Siem Reap, said the arrests of the three contractors had stirred more controversy.

“After [police] arrested the low-level workers, local people became upset because they have sympathy for them,” said Puthik, explaining most believed the high-ranking officials should take full responsibility for the orders they had given their staff.

“The problem was caused by an unclear work process.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the