Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Man charged with Mondulkiri forestry crimes

Man charged with Mondulkiri forestry crimes

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The Mondulkiri Provincial Court on Sunday decided to detain Te Kim San, the former head of the mining community in Keo Seima district’s Chung Phlas commune. FRESH NEWS

Man charged with Mondulkiri forestry crimes

The Mondulkiri Provincial Court on Sunday decided to detain Te Kim San, the former head of the mining community in Keo Seima district’s Chung Phlas commune, on charges of collecting forest by-products and building an illegal timber processing facility.

This follows his arrest on Friday on suspicion of secretly storing 600 luxury logs at his mining workshop.

Provincial court spokesman Meas Bros told The Post on Sunday that a provincial court judge had decided to detain Kim San following nearly three hours of questioning.

“The court charged him under Articles 97 and 98 of the Law on Forestry,” he said.

Mondulkiri provincial Military Police commander Hem Bonarel said Kim San was detained by police from the National Committee for Prevention and Crackdown on Natural Resources Crimes.

“The suspect was sent by our police to the provincial Department of Environment for questioning and to discover who else was involved. After questioning, we sent him to the provincial court on Sunday afternoon,” he said.

Provincial Department of Environment director Keo Sopheak confirmed that specialist police had completed questioning Kim San and sent him to the provincial court.

He said the timber impounded as evidence was being transported to the provincial department headquarters to be measured.

“According to the suspect’s confession, he had no accomplices. He admitted he had stored the timber at the former mine, but said he had not yet made plans to process or transport it to sell at the market.

“The police inspected the mining pits, but there was no evidence of illegal activity by the community. Problems with the mining pits are not within my jurisdiction, but I saw the police filling the pits with soil,” Sopheak said.

Provincial Department of Mines and Energy director San Darith said the community’s mining operation in Chung Phlas commune had been shut down two years ago.

“The mining community in Chung Phlas commune is no longer active and the local authorities have monitored it regularly. Te Kim San was arrested, but forestry crimes are not within my jurisdiction,” he said.

Eang Mengly, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said that he supported the authorities enforcing the law in this case but urged them to establish who else was involved.

“Many cubic metres of wood are secretly being felled, and it couldn’t happen without the involvement of other people. Law enforcement officials have to take tougher measures against anyone who commits offences. Wrongdoers should be punished equally whether they are rich or poor.

“I support this law enforcement because, in the past, well-connected people have processed paperwork to release criminals. So they’re not afraid of the law,” he said.

Article 97 of the Law on Forestry mentions 10 crimes, including “establishing a processing facility for forestry products that lead to the destruction of forest or forest ecology” and “destroying, hiding, selling or stealing forest evidence”.

Convicted offenders are to be punished under Class I forestry offences and face five to 10 years in prison, confiscation of all evidence as state property and revocation of applicable agreements, licenses or permits.

There are 12 offences listed under Article 98, including “use of machinery or vehicles with the purpose of harvesting forest products or by-products without a permit or tags”.

The Class I forestry offences carry a one- to five-year prison sentences and/or court fines of 10 million to 100 million riel ($2,500 to $25,000), and confiscation of all evidence as state property.

MOST VIEWED

  • Draft law on state of emergency pending finalisation

    Prime Minister Hun Sen will lead a top-level meeting on Tuesdays to review the draft law on imposing a state of emergency. Meantime, he has decided to close all casinos in Cambodia effective April 1. In the press conference after the National Assembly met today, Hun

  • State of emergency on table amid pandemic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen, his deputy prime ministers and legal team will meet on Tuesday to review the draft law on declaring a state of emergency, as Covid-19 cases rose to 107 in the Kingdom on Monday. Speaking at a press conference after a parliament meeting

  • Stranded passengers petition UK for help

    Some 10,521 foreigners in Cambodia, the bulk being from the UK, have signed an online petition calling on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and relevant officials to fly them out of the Kingdom. The petition is targeted at 15,000 foreigners. Among them are nearly 200 Europeans, the majority

  • Covid-19 Pandemic: Force majeure and legal consequences

    Is the Covid-19 pandemic considered an event of force majeure? The World Health Organisation declared the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak a pandemic on March 11. Following this declaration, the Ministry of Health and other ministries have taken various legal and administrative measures to prevent the rapid

  • PM set to mend ties with US

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has responded to US Congressman Ted Yoho, saying he is ready to improve Cambodia-US relations, and not take up issues of disagreements which have become a barrier between the two countries’ bilateral cooperation. His response to Yoho came after the congressman

  • Mysterious century-old structure found at bottom of Angkor pond

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has discovered a mysterious 1,000-year-old structure of a wooden building at the bottom of a pond after the Angkor Wat temple’s conservation team completed restoring its northern cave. The deputy director at ANA’s Angkor International Research and Documentation