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Officer tied to timber has ‘fled to Thailand’

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Officials inspect timber seized in a raid on a timber warehouse in Kampong Speu province earlier this week. GRK

Officer tied to timber has ‘fled to Thailand’

A military official from Kampong Speu province escaped to Thailand after his timber warehouse was raided by military police on Tuesday, the head of a local conservation group said yesterday.

The raid was the third time in the past two years that Military Region 3 official Choeung Theng, 33, has been linked to the illegal trade in timber. He had most recently been arrested in June when a Kampot bridge collapsed under the weight of a truck carrying timber that allegedly belonged to him.

Natural Resources and Wildlife Preservation Organisation director Chea Hean said he understood that Theng fled shortly after the raid. Military police spokesman Eng Hy declined to comment, saying only that authorities were still inspecting the seized timber.

Separately, in Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat district, Dy Samey, director of the Veal Kombor protected area, said large-scale illegal logging remained rife inside the forest despite government claims that they had wiped out the practice. “People are logging the protected area, the noise of the chainsaws reverberates throughout the forest. It happens every day,” Samey said.

Phat Savun, director of the nearby Okorki community forest, said he believed that employees of nearby economic land concessions were involved in the large-scale logging.

Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary official Son Sovansong said illegal logging was only taking place at a cottage-industry level, and that such small-scale logging was difficult to police.

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