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Stung Treng authorities reject RFA timber trafficking claim

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A Radio Free Asia report claimed on March 27 there was a resurgence of illegal timber trafficking activities near the Lower Sesan II Dam. Photo supplied

Stung Treng authorities reject RFA timber trafficking claim

The Stung Treng provincial department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries rejected a Radio Free Asia (RFA) report which claimed that on March 27, there was a resurgence of illegal timber trafficking activities near the Lower Sesan II Dam.

In a written statement seen by The Post on Monday, the department said: “There was no timber trafficking activity on March 27 at the base of Lower Sesan II Dam, and there had not been any since the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries ordered the closure of sawmills owned by Ang & Associates Lawyer Co Ltd, which are located in Stung Treng province’s Phluk commune in Sesan district and Kratie province’s Kbal Damrei commune.”

Since 2013, there have been repeated accusations that the company is logging outside its permitted area near the Lower Sesan II Dam.

In February last year, the government decided to halt timber hauling in the reservoir basin and the clearing of the land concession until the national election had been completed.

In response to RFA’s report, the provincial department regarded it as “fake news and completely false”.

Separately, a joint task force in Ratanakkiri province recently discovered an array of illegally logged luxury timber bound for Vietnam. The timber was found hidden in storage during a crackdown in O’Yadav district’s Paknhai commune.

Hong Van Dean, the head of the Bakeo forestry administration, told The Post late on Sunday that his team had joined forces with the provincial and Military Police to launch the crackdown.

This, he said, was after obtaining a report claiming a large amount of timber was being shipped out of the jungle in Andong Meas district and kept at a hidden location before being exported to Vietnam.

Van Dean said the force found 114 pieces of high-grade woods known as Sokkrom and Sralav.

“The owner of the hideout is Pouy Kiev, from the Jarai ethnic community. As of now, my team is taking legal measures against him and collecting evidence,” he said.

A police officer who wished not to be identified confirmed that Kiev and his team had illegally cut down hundreds of trees in the forest in Andong Meas district and intended to sell the logs in Vietnam.

He said the perpetrators had initially planned to export the woods on April 10.

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