A 23-year-old truck driver died in an accident in Pursat’s Veal Veng district on Saturday night while allegedly transporting wood for MDS Import Export, a company owned by Cambodia’s most prominent timber tycoon, Try Pheap.
Keo Channy, district police chief, said the truck crashed into a rock and crushed driver Kean Vy Hul’s neck and body. His assistant driver was not injured. Channy said that the company was insured and had compensated the victim’s family.
“The family had agreed with the company [about the compensation]”, he said. “The brake did not work and the truck carried a huge amount of wood . . . The wood crushed him as flat as a banana cake.
“He drove too fast and could not control the truck. When he tried to brake, it did not work, which resulted in [the truck’s] drifting off the road and crashing.”
Hun Ran, Pramuoy commune police chief, said the truck was carrying first-grade wood.
“[MDS Import Export] sometimes transports wood, and we cannot know [what they are carrying] because the company covers the trucks . . . It is [only] when there is an accident like this that we know it’s wood.”
Ran declined to comment on the legality of the shipment. “We do not know whether [the wood] was illegal or not.”
Pheap has been accused of engaging in illegal logging activities in the past, despite his pledge of July 2015 to end his company’s logging activities.
Ran added that the company had pepper and rubber plantations in Pramuoy commune after having received land concessions from the government.
In a separate incident in the same province, three self-identified journalists were charged on Saturday for allegedly extorting money from a purported timber smuggler in Samrong commune, in Phnom Kravanh district.
Provincial prosecutor spokesman Long Cheap said the provincial military police arrested the three journalists after they allegedly extorted money from an unidentified man.
“The investigating judge had decided to place them in pre-trial detention. This case was red-handed,” he said.
According to provincial court spokesman Heng Donin, the three were charged by the investigating judge under articles 363 and 364 of the Cambodian Criminal Code.
Local media reported the three journalists to be San Piseth, 30, and Sin Sophorn, 23, from MSJ TV, and Suos Nai, 34, from CPN TV. Both organisations are little-known, though MSJ regularly posts videos to Facebook.