Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kampong Speu officers tagged as smugglers

Kampong Speu officers tagged as smugglers

Authorities measure illegal timber last month in Kampong Speu, where a conservation NGO has accused  two military personnel of being personally involved in timber smuggling. Photo supplied
Authorities measure illegal timber last month in Kampong Speu, where a conservation NGO has accused two military personnel of being personally involved in timber smuggling. Photo supplied

Kampong Speu officers tagged as smugglers

A conservation NGO has accused a soldier and a military police officer of being personally involved in illegal timber-smuggling rings in Kampong Speu, one of the provinces military police announced would be scrutinised during an internal corruption investigation.

Natural Resources and Wildlife Preservation Organization director Chea Hean said yesterday that the two rings operated at least five heavy trucks, as of last Friday, transporting illegal wood to Vietnam.

Hean said the soldier, Choeung Theng, was a member of one ring, and provincial military police deputy chief of staff Chheng Long a member of the other.

“[The national government] said that the border is closed, but the authorities just closed their eyes and reported to the superiors that there is no timber hauling,” he said.

According to Hean, both groups buy timber from Veal Veng and Phnom Kravanh districts in Pursat, and Sre Ambel and Thmor Bang districts in Koh Kong.

They then haul them through Kampong Speu’s Oral district, Takeo’s Phnom Den checkpoint and Kampot’s Torn Horn checkpoint, usually at night.

On Sunday, military police spokesman Eng Hy said investigators would visit Kampong Speu and Pursat after local media reported that officers were participating in illegal logging there.

Hean said timber smuggling had increased after news broke that the government’s illegal logging committee would inspect the area, in order to get as much business done as possible before the crackdown.

Kampong Speu military police chief of staff Chan Da yesterday said Long had been under investigation since the accusations against him surfaced in the past few days. Long had denied being involved but said his son ran a small, legitimate timber trading business, Da said.

“I called him in, but he said there is nothing,” said Da. “It is his child, not him.”

In June last year, the Wildlife Alliance wildlife rapid response team alleged that Theng held them at gunpoint when they stopped a vehicle loaded with planks from a protected area and tried to reclaim it.

Theng declined to comment yesterday.

Say Sam Al, the minister of environment, said on International Environment Day on Sunday that the “huge scale of logging, I can say at the moment, it has been completely ended”.

However, residents of multiple provinces said that large timber trucks are continuing to flow to Vietnam.

Additional reporting by Igor Kossov

MOST VIEWED

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Actress’s NGO takes heat for promoting the ruling party

    An actress’s NGO which participated in an election campaign event contrary to the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango) has been slammed. Chorn Chanleakena, a celebrity and the president of the Association of Artists Volunteering to Help Society, allegedly led its members in

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not