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Six illegal logging tractors seized

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An officer measures timber seized in Siem Reap province’s Svay Leu district on Wednesday. Siem Reap Administration

Six illegal logging tractors seized

Svay Leu district forestry administration office in Siem Reap province has given a month’s notice to the owners of homemade tractors impounded last week for transporting illegal timber. Authorities warned that if no action was taken the administration would take the case to court.

Provincial department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries director Tea Kim Soth told The Post on March 17 that administration officials last week seized six homemade tractors in Chan Hear village, Svay Leu district’s Boeung Mealea commune, transporting logs. Owners didn’t have permission from the administration.

According to the administration’s report, these logs have a diameter of 0.25m to 0.3m, and lengths from 4m to 6m. There are 36 first-, second- and third-grade trees about 9.04m in length. All the evidence has been kept at the administration’s office to file a case in accordance with the forest law.

“Once arrested, the tractors’ owner must pay a fine in order to take possession of the tractors. However, the logs are not allowed to be returned. They are confiscated as state property,” Soth said.

According to Soth, if the owners fail to pay the fine, the administration will send the case to court. But so far, the owners have not yet paid the fines. According to the law, they have one month to pay.

“If they cannot immediately find the money to pay the fine, it is multiplied by three. They bought each tractor for about 300,000 [$75] to 400,000 riel, but we could ask them to pay a fine of about three million riel for each,” Soth said.

Soth stated that nobody was detained and they would not imprison anybody as only a fine is required. If they paid the fine, they could take the tractors. Otherwise, the court would confiscate both tractors and logs as state property.

In a separate case, Battambang provincial department of environment director Kort Boran said that rangers at the “ the Samlaut Multi-use Area” in Battambang province on February 14 arrested two suspects and retrieved some evidence, including one green-coloured vehicle with military police plates, and four pieces of Sokrom wood. They were caught transporting the wood from a restricted area in Samlaut district.

Boran stated that the two suspects were a 58-year-old man living in Samlaut district and the other a 22-year-old from the province. They are military officers in the 4th division in Battambang province.

However, Boran confirmed that park rangers did not send the suspects to the provincial court, only a fine and education on February 16, as it was not a serious offense.

“We are punishing them according to the law. But I do not know exactly how much money – maybe about five million to 10 million riel, depending on the severity and impact on natural resources,” he said.

According to Boran, when there is a fine (transitional), it requires only the offender’s evidence such as wood to be confiscated. The car and offender are released. But for serious offenses such as transporting rosewood, the wood and vehicle would be confiscated and the individual sent to court.

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