Indigenous people in Mondulkiri province called in the police and environment officials to visit a logging site in the Phnum Prech Wildlife Sanctuary after reports to a village leader were not acted upon.
Pu Neav village secretary Liv Kheam said on Monday that 10 indigenous people brought three environment officers and three police officers to the site they found in May.
He said bringing in the officials helped to avoid accusations that the community is misrepresenting forest crimes in the protected area. If it is also found that the village leader covered up the crimes, he could face prison time.
“We found the crime several months ago, but no one did anything. We reported it to the commune chief Chan Saman, but he said he was busy.
“We brought environment officers and the police directly to the scene because we don’t want them to say that we are lying when they finally discover it,” Kheam said.
He claims many large trees that were felled were first-grade timber with a diameter of about 20-40cm.
One of the attending environment officers declined to comment. Memang commune police chief Korb Thun said he had not yet received any information from his officers at the site.
Saman denied allegations that he ignored forest crime in Memang village in the Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary and insisted he always led commune police to investigate reported crimes.
“They didn’t report any forest crime (in Memang village)! So I do not like it. They didn’t report and said they reported.
“They never reported it to us. If they report, I have the authority in that commune to do something according to an order from the national level,” he said.
Adhoc’s Mondulkiri provincial coordinator Eang Mengly said local authorities must report forest offences to the court. If they pretend they do not know and don’t report the offence they have to face the law.
“According to Article 528 of the Criminal Code, authorities who know about the offences but do not take measures to prevent them will be sent to prison for one to three years and fined from two to six million riel ($488 to $1,463),” he said.