The director of an anti-logging NGO has called on the Anti-Corruption Unit to investigate seven government rangers for alleged involvement in forestry crimes in the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary from February to August this year.
In a letter submitted to the ACU on Friday, Chea Hean, director of the Nature Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organisation (NRWPO), said his team’s seven-month investigation had found a number of irregularities in the areas administered by the seven officials from the sanctuary, which is overseen by the Ministry of Environment.
Highlighted in the letter was a case in Kampong Speu’s Oral district, where “Nuon Chork, a ranger team head, stationed an outpost in HLH Company to collect money from timber haulers without taking any action against them”.
Also mentioned was a case in which part of 70 cubic metres of timber seized and impounded by NRWPO this year was “covertly stolen”. “Part of the seized timber was lost. They sold it bit by bit,” Hean said yesterday. “The lost pieces were of good quality, and they were replaced with low-quality ones.”
However, those allegations were vehemently denied by sanctuary director Yorng Phearum, who called them “unacceptable”. “No timber was lost; it’s just an accusation. No outpost was stationed to collect money,” he said.
An ACU official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Hean will be meeting the ACU today. In addition to Chork, the officials accused are sanctuary director Phearum, ranger team heads Khorn Sokhun, Hy Chan and Kang Nheb, district Forestry Administration chief Taing Chansema and Tasal commune Forestry Administration chief Sar Phallet.