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News outlet links officer to illegal timber trade

Authorities pose with seized rosewood that allegedly links commander Sao Sokha to the illegal timber trade. Fresh News
Authorities pose with seized rosewood that allegedly links commander Sao Sokha to the illegal timber trade. Fresh News

News outlet links officer to illegal timber trade

National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said legal action is being “considered” after a news outlet published a report linking the force’s commander, Sao Sokha, to the illegal timber trade.

The article from online outlet Kampuchea Sovannaphumi on Sunday accused Trapaing Prasat District Deputy Military Police Commander Sos Rong of trading in rosewood “for many years”.

It claimed Rong, who could not be reached yesterday, had boasted to journalists that he did not face scrutiny by authorities because he was protected by Sokha, who has in the past been linked to the illegal timber trade by the NGO Global Witness.

Editor Plong Ret said he only raised the question of whether Sokha was shielding a Military Police official, whom he accused of buying and selling rosewood, and maintained he was not levelling a direct allegation at the force’s commander.

The headline on the story, which was written in Khmer, translates as: “General Sao Sokha suspected as the one behind a military policeman trading rosewood?”

In a response on the National Military Police’s official Facebook page, Hy, the spokesman, rejected any assertion Sokha was involved in the timber trade. Reached yesterday, Hy said legal measures were being considered.

Ret, in a later post on his webpage, claimed he only wanted to inform Sokha about Rong’s comments, which he said were made during a “drinking session”.

“It is not an allegation, it is just suspicion,” he said, “so I wrote it with a question mark.”

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