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

  • Kingdom may hire Turkish power ship

    Cambodia is considering negotiating with Turkey to hire a 200MW-capacity power ship to meet electricity demands as the country faces an ongoing electrical shortage, according to the prime minister. Speaking to garment workers in Pursat province on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Electricite du

  • Woman who scaled Cambodia’s three highest peaks eyes Everest

    One of the very few Cambodian women to have successfully reached the Kingdom’s three highest peaks is now eyeing Malaysia’s tallest mountain, Mount Kinabalu, and potentially even the world’s tallest straddling Nepal and China, Mount Everest. While in many Western countries it

  • Cheap, clean and efficient: The firm leading Cambodia’s solar revolution

    Sitting in her bright and airy 17th floor office, Rithya Menon, Okra Smart Solar’s lead firmware engineer, checks the frequently updating data telling her everything about how well their community services are operating. “I saw in the data that there was a problem with

  • PM Hun Sen: Cambodia will not die without EBA scheme

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday reiterated that he would not be overly concerned if Cambodia had its access to the EU’s “Everything But Arms” (EBA) scheme withdrawn because the Kingdom would not die without it. Hun Sen was speaking to factory workers in