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Forestry official under investigation

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Authorities inspect a massive haul of 40 tonnes of illegal timber seized in a raid on a warehouse in August in Kandal province. Photo supplied

Forestry official under investigation

Officials confirmed yesterday that the top forestry officer in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district has been suspended on suspicion of involvement in the illegal timber trade.

Y Sophy, the district’s chief Forestry Administration official, led a raid on a warehouse on August 31, in which authorities found 40 tonnes of thnong and rosewood.

He is now under investigation and was suspended in September for his alleged links to the timber in question, said Nhem Dararith, director of the provincial Forestry Administration.

“The crime happened in his area, so we are suspending his work during an investigation into whether he was involved,” he said.

Dararith would not comment further on any evidence suggesting Sophy may be involved.

Sophy confirmed yesterday that he had been temporarily suspended, but denied any wrongdoing.

“I have not been officially removed from work yet, but just suspended. [I was] not involved in it. We are the ones who told the court to take legal action on the crime,” he said.

Sophy also claimed the court had already questioned locals and found no link between him and the warehouse. “But when I asked, the court just said they are working on it,” he said.

According to Deputy Prosecutor Sou Sovichea, the warehouse owner – whom he declined to identify – ignored a court summons for October 27 and has been summonsed again for November 30.

Sovichea directed questions on the nature of Sophy’s alleged involvement to Bun Tuon Simona, director of the provincial Department of Agriculture, but he declined to comment.

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