The Pursat provincial Military Police, in cooperation with provincial environmental officers, on Saturday confiscated a total of 150 Reach Kol timber logs, which had been hidden near the Cardamom Mountains in Rovieng village in Phnom Kravanh district’s Samrong commune.
Provincial military police deputy commander So Sovanndy, who led a team during the raid, told The Post on Sunday the logs were being stored by Conservation International, and military police were seeking the owner to send to the provincial court.
He said the crackdown was made after provincial military police were informed of the location where the timber was hidden – an area under the supervision of the Ministry of Environment.
Sovanndy said the logs varied in length from 5m to 6m. The timber, he said, had been cut into planks and other shapes.
“The timber was logged and put onto a pile. The offenders were not arrested – they escaped. The timber logs are being kept by Conservation International, while military police are looking for the offenders in order to send them to the provincial court,” he said.
A civil society officer told The Post on Sunday that provincial authorities are usually only able to confiscate timber, with offenders rarely arrested. Some villagers said the raid was only carried out for show.
Pen Bunna, the senior land and natural resources investigator for rights group Adhoc, said that the Cardamom Mountains area is rife with illegal logging and forestry crimes.
“According to our activists, there were many logs that were transported on trucks. In addition, one of Adhoc’s directors went to inspect the area near the Cardamom Mountains but was prevented from gaining access to the location."
“Adhoc’s head said that there were many illegal logging activities in the area. What the Military Police confiscated was only a small portion of the wood that was logged, which was about 60 times the amount of timber that was seized,” said Bunna.
He said it is not only the Pursat Military Police who rarely found or detained illegal loggers. This, he said, has become the norm in other provinces as well.