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Oknha held in Kratie over forestry crimes

Oknha held in Kratie over forestry crimes

Acting on orders from National Military Police commander Sao Sokha, the Kratie provincial court and Military Police detained an oknha (tycoon), and another man following questioning on Thursday, Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said.

“Following a proper investigation, the police can detain any individual who is suspected of being involved in a crime,” Hy wrote on the National Military Police’s Facebook page.

He confirmed that the two men had been detained at the Kratie provincial Military Police headquarters but did not provide further details.

According to Fresh News, the second suspect is the oknha’s son-in-law, but provincial deputy prosecutor Thuch Panhchak Santepheap declined to comment on the matter.

A summons was issued on August 1 by National Military Police deputy commander Hong Vinol, who is also head of a National Committee for Prevention and Crackdown on Natural Resource Crimes working team, summoning the oknha for questioning on Thursday concerning forestry crimes.

After being questioned, the decision was taken to detain the suspect and his alleged accomplice.

Meanwhile, activists and legal experts have urged the National Committee for Prevention and Crackdown on Natural Resource Crimes to stop setting fire to vehicles seized in forestry crime stings.

Vehicles have been burnt several times recently, with the latest example by Mondulkiri provincial Military Police in Koh Nhek district on Tuesday.

Forest activist Heng Sros said he backed any crackdown on forestry crimes but did not support burning seized vehicles.

He said government institutions should use the vehicles and any other equipment to serve the people’s common interest.

Sros said the authorities should thoroughly investigate anyone suspected of involvement in forestry crimes and imprison them according to the law.

Besides, he said, officials in charge of those areas should not be tolerated either because they were facilitating forestry crimes.

Lawyer Sok Sam Oeun said confiscated evidence can be burned or destroyed as long as there is a warrant from the court or permission is granted because the items are found to contain chemical or toxic substances.

But he agreed that the courts should avoid ruling to burn the vehicles and also advised the authorities to keep them for use by government institutions.

Sam Oeun went further by saying that seized drugs should not be set on fire either, but instead handed over to the Ministry of Health for research and to make medicines.

“We should keep evidence that we seize because if it cannot be used for illegal purposes, maybe it can be used for something else. We should conduct experiments.

“I can understand burning weapons or dangerous equipment that could kill people, but useful items should be kept by the state to serve the common good.

Mondulkiri provincial Military Police chief Hem Bonarel said 13 vehicles used in forestry crimes had been cut into pieces and blown up with TNT.

“On the destruction of confiscated items used in forestry crimes, my force will manage it in line with official procedures.

“And the decision to shut timber processing workshops and depots rests with the National Committee for Prevention and Crackdown on Natural Resource Crimes,” he said.

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