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Officials colluding with timber traders, says NGO director

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The Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organisation found 59 logs on Sunday near farmland belonging to officials in Tasal commune, in Kampong Speu province’s Oral district. Photo supplied

Officials colluding with timber traders, says NGO director

A forest activist found 59 logs on Sunday near farmland belonging to officicials in Tasal commune, in Kampong Speu province’s Oral district.

Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organisation director Chea Hean said the logs were hidden in a private property in Choam village, just 100m from the farmland of several senior environmental officials.

He identified the officials as Chhun Cheaheng, former director of the Oral Wildlife Sanctuary, his successor Khorn Sohkun and two other unidentified rangers.

Hean said he suspected the logs were hauled from the central Cardamom mountains – a protected area in Oral district.

He said he had reported the matter to Oral district Military Police after discovering the 59 logs, which had since been seized by Forestry Administration officials.

“If there’s no collusion with the officials, I don’t think they could hide the timber there,” he said.

Asked to comment on the matter, National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy referred reporters to the Forestry Administration.

Oral district Forestry Administration chief Taing Chansema told The Post on Monday that the logs were being detained at the Sangke Satoap Commune Forestry Administration.

He said no arrest was made as the timber was found in the forest.

“The logs were hidden in the forest, not in the village as claimed,” he said.

Sohkun, the Oral Wildlife Sanctuary chief, declined to comment on Monday. The Post could not reach Sohkun’s predecessor or the two environmental rangers for comment.

Hean said he discovered the logs while patrolling a forest in Choam village, which he claimed had been cleared by Sokhon and his predecessor Cheaheng for private ownership.

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