The Mondulkiri Provincial Court on Saturday charged and placed seven men and two minors in pre-trial detention over illegal logging in a protected area in Koh Nhek district’s Ror Nhor commune.
Provincial court spokesman Meas Bros said on Sunday that after receiving the nine men from the provincial department of environment, a prosecutor questioned and sent them to an investigating judge, who decided to charge them.
“We decided to detain them at the provincial prison. After their questioning, the court charged them with logging in a protected area,” Bros said.
The Ministry of Environment named the nine men as Lim Van Kheng, 52; Seng Chea, 41; Hun Sat, 44; Orn Ten, 39; Van Chan Ry, 26; Khoeun Sokheng, 25; Ren Den, 30; Ren Mina, 15, and Ok Pheak, 15.
“It is a second-grade natural resource crime under Articles 56 and 60 involving Natural Protection Areas,” the ministry said.
Article 56 states that a person who commits natural resources offences of the second grade faces one month to one year in prison.
Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Peaktra said on Sunday that the provincial department of environment sent the accused to the provincial court on Friday after they were caught red-handed while logging timber in the O’Khliev area of the Koh Nhek Biodiversity Protection Area.
Rangers seized some evidence from them that included four chainsaws and 37 planks of various types of wood. The confiscated items have been filed as state property.
Environmental activist Kreung Tola said large-scale logging has been on the decline, but authorities are still weeding out smaller operations.
These operations usually involve land clearing, logging and the transportation of timber using motorbikes, he noted.
“Some logging and timber transportation still happens, like in Keo Seima district where wood is also transported in cars,” Tola said.