A stockpile of illegal timber was reportedly found on the land of a district military police chief in Kampong Speu province, while his son-in-law and alleged timber trader Sy Sar remains at large.
Joint forces turned up 20 cubic metres of luxury and first-grade timber in Oral district allegedly belonging to Sar after receiving an anonymous tip earlier this week.
Vei Samnang, Kampong Speu provincial governor, said military police, local police and forestry experts found the timber and an abandoned truck, and are still searching for a second stash mentioned by the tipster.
“They managed to find one location where there is a truck loaded with timber . . . The experts seized and impounded it at a location in Oral Wildlife Sanctuary where it is being counted and measured,” Samnang said.
Samnang said that authorities did not see anyone at the site, adding that it’s difficult for authorities to apprehend smugglers who run away because it’s illegal for officers to shoot them.
Chea Hean, director of Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organisation, claimed the wood was found on land belonging to Lieutenant General Chhen Long.Long’s son-in-law was linked to the illegal timber trade last month when one of his alleged haulers was arrested, but has remained at large.
“Sy Sar is still logging in the province,” Hean claimed, saying the well-connected logger has only been ordered to pay a fine and faces no jail time.In a separate case, military official Choeung Theng was finally arrested yesterday in connection with a four-month old forestry crime.
“He was arrested in Kandal province based on the warrant of the investigating judge of Phnom Penh Municipal Court. He was sent to Phnom Penh and put into pre-trial detention,” said Eng Hy, spokesman for the national military police.
Theng was detained in Kampot in June, after a truck of his was so overloaded with illegal timber that it broke a bridge. He was released after paying a fine, but in December Kampong Speu authorities found 300 pieces of illegal timber in his home, prompting the arrest warrant.