Pursat Provincial Court yesterday sentenced a military official, Poung Puthearith, to two years in jail – suspended to six months – on charges of threatening and obstructing the works of a forestry official, a court official said.
Provincial court deputy prosecutor You Yinny said the court president, Thong Ol, also fined the former military police officer 10 million riel ($2,500).
Puthearith was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Unit in November for his involvement with an illegal luxury timber racket in Pursat’s Krakor district. His arrest came after he threatened Forestry Administration officials who tried to stop him from transporting four carloads of illegally felled rosewood in June 2012.
The arrest represented a rare crackdown in Pursat, where, the ACU admitted in a statement released at the time, “it is very difficult to crack down on logging, because there are many people that use their power to stop [investigators] and create obstacles for the police”.
ACU spokesman, Keo Remy last night said he had not yet heard of the conviction but that more information would be forthcoming today.
The suspended sentence will see Puthearith released in less than three months.
To contact the reporter on this story: Cheang Sokha at [email protected]d