Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Oknha Sam Ol in court for Mondulkiri illegal logging

Oknha Sam Ol in court for Mondulkiri illegal logging

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Tycoon Soeng Sam Ol and three other suspects were sent to Mondulkiri provincial court on Thursday. Four vehicles they allegedly used to transport illegal timber were destroyed on Wednesday. Eng Hy

Oknha Sam Ol in court for Mondulkiri illegal logging

Following their arrest on Tuesday, tycoon Soeng Sam Ol, owner of the Master K Sun company, two supervisors and a driver were sent to Mondulkiri provincial court on Thursday on grounds of alleged illegal logging.

Meanwhile, National Military Police commander Sao Sokha announced that the authorities are continuing to search for people involved in forestry crimes.

Mondulkiri provincial court spokesman Meas Bros told The Post on Thursday that he had received the case but the prosecutor had only questioned one person so far.

“Prosecutor Morm Vanna has questioned a suspect, while the other three suspects will be questioned on Friday. Right now I don’t know what the court will decide,” he said.

Eng Hy, the spokesman for the National Military Police and the National Committee for Prevention and Crackdown on Natural Resource Crimes, declined to comment on Thursday and referred questions to the provincial court.

But he wrote on his official Facebook page that four vehicles used to transport illegal timber on forest land in Koh Nhek district were blown up by the authorities with TNT, while another 40 seized vehicles were awaiting destruction.

Eang Mengly, a provincial officer for rights group Adhoc, said he had received some information but was not well versed with the case or how the court would proceed.

“I will continue to follow up on this case. But for the time being, I have not received the detailed information,” he said.

Sokha, who is also chairman of the National Committee for Prevention and Crackdown on Natural Resource Crimes, was quoted by Fresh News on Wednesday as saying: “Those who go against the protection of the forest, including journalists, will also face legal action.

“Trees were logged and you shouted. When it was legal transport, you shouted. When it was illegal transport, you also shouted. Now I will crack down on those shouting. All of you have to be punished in accordance with the law as accomplices to the crime,” he said.

He said the order was made to use a helicopter to shoot those felling trees, but up to now no one had been killed – only their means of transport had been destroyed and the perpetrators detained.

Kroeung Tola, a forest activist in Mondulkiri province, said he was happy with Sokha’s commitment but he had little hope because some leaders had been arrested in the past for forestry crimes.

He said if such a commitment had been made 10 years ago, Cambodia’s forests would not have been destroyed like they have been.

“I don’t understand much about his mind. He has only just made a commitment like a brave person when the forest has almost been destroyed, but I also support him. If there is commitment from today onwards, some forest will be saved, so it’s not completely useless,” Tola said.

In another case, on Tuesday and Wednesday joint authorities in Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district raided secret illegal timber processing locations on forest land in Ramdoh Sre commune’s Pakspek village and Teuk Krahom commune’s Rong Roeung I village.

Choam Ksan district Forestry Administration chief Mak Panha said the operation was led by deputy district chief of general staff Srun Lemg Siek with Forestry Administration technical officers under their deputy chief Chan Vichea and with coordination from provincial prosecutor Ty Sovan Thal.

He said the evidence seized from the two locations included a table used to plane timber, a cutting machine, two motors, two makeshift tractors and more than three cubic metres of timber.

“The owners will be fined in accordance with the law and we will make them sign a contract agreeing to stop their activities or face further legal action,” Panha said.

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