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Illegal timber seized from warehouse in city

Men carry timber to a police truck yesterday morning after a Phnom Penh warehouse containing illegal wood was raided by authorities.
Men carry timber to a police truck yesterday morning after a Phnom Penh warehouse containing illegal wood was raided by authorities. Pha Lina

Illegal timber seized from warehouse in city

More than 100 illegal timber logs were seized during a raid on a warehouse in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district yesterday.

According to Ouch Samnang, deputy director of the Forestry Administration in Phnom Penh, the warehouse belonged to a timber dealer named Sok Hey Hour, although no arrests were made.

“We confiscated only illegal wood. For the legal wood, we did not confiscate that,” Samnang said. About 121 illegal blocks of varying size were seized along with an industrial saw.

A Post reporter overheard Hey Hour pleading for leniency from officials.

“Please, let’s reach a compromise,” she said. “I know we have just a few illegal [pieces of wood], but the rest is legal.”

Authorities inspect a warehouse in central Phnom Penh where illegal timber and an industrial saw were seized during a raid yesterday morning.
Authorities inspect a warehouse in central Phnom Penh where illegal timber and an industrial saw were seized during a raid yesterday morning. Pha Lina

In a separate incident on Saturday, two men detained in Mondulkiri for allegedly clearing a protected forest were released after dozens of villagers blocked a road in protest.

According to Meak Vuthy, project director at the Seima Biodiversity division, local authorities had been watching the men clearing about one hectare of land inside Keo Seima district for over a month.

But after they were detained, about 50 villagers used farming equipment to block the road demanding that the men be released as they were clearing land in order to plant crops.

“They broke the law by blocking the road, so to avoid traffic congestion on the public road, we decided to let them go temporarily,” Vuthy said. “However, this case has not ended.”

The men were released after authorities obtained a guarantee from their families and village officials. The case has been sent to the provincial court.

Authorities in Preah Vihear were not as lenient in a third case on Friday, when a 19-year-old, Bun Buot, was arrested for allegedly clearing land inside Boeung Pear wildlife Sanctuary.

“My son cleared about 10 metres for growing crops, but the environment officials arrested and detained him,” said the accused’s father, Nhek Bun.

Over 100 villagers protested at the provincial hall demanding Buot’s release, but authorities continued to detain the man until the case could be heard.

Lor Chan, Preah Vihear provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the villagers submitted a letter to the authorities calling for his release, claiming he cleared the land for subsistence farming only.

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