Multiple timber busts in Stung Treng, Mondulkiri

Source: Phnom Penh Post

Officials pose for a photograph after seizing illegal timber from a Vietnamese tour bus on Friday in Mondulkiri province. Photo supplied

A slew of timber busts in Mondulkiri and Stung Treng provinces over the weekend saw three individuals detained and one other questioned by authorities.

Two Vietnamese nationals were detained on Saturday by provincial Military Police in Mondulkiri’s Sen Monorom town, after they were intercepted driving a passenger bus towards the border loaded with 46 logs of luxury thnong timber, said Hem Bonarel, a commander with the provincial Military Police.

Yesterday, the suspects and evidence were being held at the provincial Forestry Administration (FA) office for interrogation, said Morm Vanda, spokesman for the provincial court’s prosecutor.

“The Forestry Administration experts are questioning them and investigating before preparing the case for court,” he said, adding that he does not know what, if any, charges will be brought.

In a separate case, authorities in Stung Treng’s Siem Pang district found what they said was an illegal sawmill along the Sekong River, in Sekong commune’s Lun village on Friday.

Sophal Panha, the commune police chief, said that some 300 logs of luxury and nonluxury timber – about 5 cubic metres’ worth – was discovered on site and impounded.

According to Panha, the landowner is a villager who, under questioning, said he rented the land to a migrant worker who would buy timber from the locals to make furniture. However, the alleged renter was nowhere to be found when authorities busted the lot.

“The landlord was seen and was questioned about this case, but he was not arrested [because] he is not the timber owner,” Panha said.

The cache of timber is being guarded overnight prior to transportation to the district FA office, he continued.

Lieng Seng, director of the provincial Agriculture Department, said he had not yet received a report regarding the bust from the FA. However, he said the FA experts are working on the case and searching for the alleged timber owner.

Separately, Mondulkiri prosecutor spokesman Vanda said the FA is also working on a case in which a heavy truck licensed to transport 16 cubic metres of timber was found to be overloaded on Friday. The driver, he said, is being questioned.

Song Kheang, who directs the Agriculture Department, under which the FA falls, said the truck carried an excess of no more than 1 cubic metre.

“Experts are working on this case. No worries,” he said.

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