Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Grandma Proeung’ in court over timber rap



‘Grandma Proeung’ in court over timber rap

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Heng Samnieng, 58, seen being questioned by forestry officials last year. Fresh News

‘Grandma Proeung’ in court over timber rap

In the first and only day of her trial yesterday, prominent alleged timber trader Heng Samnieng claimed that Military Police officers had tried to sell off pieces of timber confiscated by authorities in Stung Treng, where she was arrested in October while allegedly attempting to retrieve the seized lumber from a government compound.

Samnieng, also known as “Grandmother Proeung”, appeared at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday morning to face three charges including harvesting timber products without a permit, attempted theft and rebellion against a public official.

The 58-year-old was detained on October 13 last year when she and seven accomplices entered the O Pong Mon Forestry Administration compound in Siem Bok district in the early hours of the morning.

The court heard yesterday that the site housed a stockpile of 1,301 pieces of timber seized from a local rubber plantation the day before.

At the time of the arrest, officials said the wood belonged to Samnieng and that she had tried to retrieve it.

However, giving evidence yesterday, the Stung Treng Provincial Military Police Chief in charge of forest crimes, Klok Seima, said officers “did not find the timber’s owner” during the raid at the plantation.

Yesterday, Samnieng denied she owned the timber, claiming it belonged to a Hanoi-based Vietnamese timber trader named Ta Kva.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Proeung, 58, hides her face as she is escorted yesterday into a police vehicle at Phnom Penh's Municipal court after her trial. Niem Chheng

“Ta Kva told me to check the timber,” said Samnieng. “There was a Military Police [officer] who called to [ask me to] buy three or four pieces of [the] timber,” she added.

Seima – who denied Samnieng had been in contact with military office officers – said that after the wood was seized, an officer of his notified him that Samnieng had arrived at the Forestry Administration.

“I told him to arrest her on three grounds: She went into state complex at night outside working hours, she came to get the timber seized the day before and she is a well known timber trader in the north-eastern provinces” Seima told the court.

Vong Channa, a Military Police officer on guard duty that night, said Samnieng led a group of seven individuals to the Forestry Administration compound.

“At 2:40am . . . I heard the sound of a car,” Channa said. “Then I saw one [official] talking to a woman; I walked to them and [when] I saw that it was Grandmother Proeung, I called my boss and he told me to arrest her.”

Channa said that when he arrested Proeung, her seven companions charged towards him – some on foot, others in a van – and only dispersed after he fired a warning shot with his pistol.

Pov Piseth, Samnieng’s lawyer, asked the court to drop all charges against his client.

Judge Pich Vicheator will announce the verdict on June 27.

MOST VIEWED

  • Municipal hall releases map detailing colour coded Covid risks by commune

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng released an official map detailing the red, yellow and dark yellow zones within the city under the new lockdown orders for Phnom Penh announced on April 26. The designation of red, dark yellow and yellow corresponds to areas with high,

  • Inter-provincial travel ban lifted; Phnom Penh and Takmao not exempted

    The government on April 25 decided to lift the inter-provincial travel ban and the closure of tourist attractions across the country, effectively immediately. The travel ban and closures of all resorts were imposed on April 6 and 17 respectively in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19,

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown extended for another week

    The government late on April 26 announced an extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province for another seven days – or longer if residents do not comply with Covid-19 preventive measures and the community outbreak does not subside – until May 5. According

  • Gov't mulls extension of Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown

    The Inter-ministerial National Commission for the Control and Enforcement of Lockdown held a video conference meeting on April 25 to review a draft document on the extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal province’s Takmao town. The meeting was chaired by Minister of

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR