Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - More Mondulkiri officials scrutinised over alleged ties to timber trade

More Mondulkiri officials scrutinised over alleged ties to timber trade

Officials seize a car loaded with luxury timber yesterday on its way to Pailin from the Samlot protected area.
Officials seize a car loaded with luxury timber yesterday on its way to Pailin from the Samlot protected area. Photo supplied

More Mondulkiri officials scrutinised over alleged ties to timber trade

Mondulkiri authorities are investigating the potential involvement of a policeman and soldier in smuggling timber to Vietnam, the latest of several similar allegations involving officials to surface in the border province.

The new allegations concern the acting police chief of the Kbal Domrei border post, Mun Phiny, and Keo Sopheak, commander of Platoon 1, which is stationed nearby in Koh Nhek district’s Sre Huy commune.

Mondulkiri Provincial Environment Department Director Keo Sopheak said suspicions had arisen about whether Vietnamese loggers had been allowed to utilise the border post as a smuggling corridor following the seizure of 15 logs in the nearby Sre Pok Wildlife Sanctuary.

He said the 15 logs appeared to be part of a larger haul, two truckloads of which had already returned to Vietnam via the crossing. “Both the policeman and the soldier have been suspended from their workplace, and more mistakes might be discovered while the court is working on this case,” he said.

Mondulkiri Provincial Governor Svay Sam Eang said he had ordered the pair’s commanders to investigate the case and to further probe whether more officers stationed along the border are involved in timber trading. “If the investigation shows they committed a mistake, we will punish them based on the law and their unit’s regulations,” he said.

Provincial Police Chief Ouk Samnang said he had interrogated the suspects. He said Phiny, the border policeman, appeared to have colluded to allow loggers access to the crossing, and vowed to take “action”.

Phiny and Platoon 1 Commander Sopheak, however, have not been arrested. Both were unreachable yesterday.

The new case follows a high-level investigation started earlier this year into several high-ranking Mondulkiri officials accused of pocketing huge bribes from a timber trader.

That case is awaiting a hearing at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, but at least one of the higher-ranking suspects, a provincial military commander, has been excused after receiving “education” about his “mistakes”.

Several others have simply been transferred.Meanwhile, in a separate case yesterday, rangers in Battambang province’s Samlot district seized a car carrying illegal rosewood timber on its way to a meeting with traders in nearby Pailin province. The driver, however, later escaped.

Battambang Provincial Environment Department Deputy Director Em Vichet said officials would use the vehicle’s registration plates to track the suspect.

MOST VIEWED

  • Diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will move to annul diplomatic passports issued to those not born in Cambodia. Analysts say the move may be in relation to reports that former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register as

  • Hun Sen warns Irish MP of EBA ‘mistake’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday told former Irish premier Enda Kenny, still a member of the EU nation’s parliament, that the 28-nation bloc should not make a “third mistake” regarding Cambodia by using the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement to “take 16 million

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading

  • PM warns EU and opposition on 34th anniversary of his rule

    HUN Sen reached the milestone of 34 years as Cambodian prime minister on Monday and used the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ring road around Phnom Penh to tell the international community that putting sanctions on the Kingdom meant killing the opposition. “Please don’t forget