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Ratanakkiri cop in bed with loggers, villagers say

Loggers transport timber alleged to be illegally logged from a protected forest area of Ratanakkiri province’s Lumphat district this month
Loggers transport timber alleged to be illegally logged from a protected forest area of Ratanakkiri province’s Lumphat district this month. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Ratanakkiri cop in bed with loggers, villagers say

Rights group Adhoc will take a complaint filed against a commune police officer accused of colluding with illegal loggers in Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat district to the provincial court today.

The complaint, which villagers in Lbaing II commune filed with Adhoc on Friday, alleges that commune police officer Phien Det assisted loggers in clearing rosewood and lower-grade luxury wood from a 193-hectare area of protected community forest, said community representative Kanhseu Bory, one of six who filed the complaint.

The Ministry of Interior officially registered the forest as protected land at the end of November, Bory said. Community members have since patrolled the area, confiscating wood and equipment from loggers, but Det has allegedly interfered with their efforts.

When villagers were bringing wood they took from loggers to a community centre last week, Det threatened them and ordered them to relinquish the wood, Bory said.

“Between August 29 and September 1, our 60 villagers confiscated 30 logs from loggers, but officer Phien Det intervened and pointed his gun at us,” Bory said.

Commune police chief Say Khily was notified about the incident, but took no action, Bory alleges.

Khily denied that Det was involved in illegal logging, and deputy district police chief Den Odorn asserted that no illegal deforestation is occurring in the district.

Contact details for Det could not be found yesterday.

Mean Prommony, a provincial investigator for Adhoc, said he received the villagers’ complaint and plans to file it in court today.

“The local authorities have taken no action, only the court will,” Prommony said.

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