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Military implicated in Stung Treng logging seizure

An RCAF vehicle sits a Forestry Administration compound on Saturday after it was seized for transporting wood illegally in Stung Treng province. Photo supplied
An RCAF vehicle sits a Forestry Administration compound on Saturday after it was seized for transporting wood illegally in Stung Treng province. Photo supplied

Military implicated in Stung Treng logging seizure

Authorities in Stung Treng said they confiscated hundreds of pieces of wood, including some from a vehicle marked with military logos, over the weekend, while nine people were also arrested in neighboring Preah Vihear following nighttime forest patrols.

In one of the finds in Stung Treng, authorities uncovered illegally felled wood stashed away, according to provincial prosecutor Chea Poch, but had arrested no one for felling or transporting the wood.

“We found some of the wood in a lake and more was buried in the earth nearby. The Forestry Administration is now transporting it to be measured,” Pech said, explaining that the find came after a military vehicle loaded with timber was stopped on Friday.

“At 9pm, the national military police confiscated a Vigo carrying some wood, but we haven’t investigated the case yet,” the prosecutor said. He added that no arrests were made during that seizure, either.

According to a post on the Forestry Administration’s Facebook page, forestry authorities, local police and military police had confiscated the vehicle – which was marked with the logo of the military’s elite Brigade 70 – as well as the 36 pieces of timber in it. It said that 24 of the pieces were rosewood.

Forestry Administration spokesman Suon Sovann said that his authorities were working with the military officials to try to prevent the participation of the nation’s armed forces in illegal logging, but that it was not always easy when logging was so rampant.

“I’m not sure how many soldiers are involved in illegal logging, but people of all sectors of society and all social standings are involved,” Sovann said.

Chainsaws sit on the ground in Preah Vihear province last week after they were seized during a joint patrol between community members and the Forestry Administration. Photo supplied
Chainsaws sit on the ground in Preah Vihear province last week after they were seized during a joint patrol between community members and the Forestry Administration. Photo supplied

In Preah Vihear, meanwhile, Ea Sokha, director of the provincial environmental department, said yesterday that night patrols by authorities and activists affiliated with the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice over four days had led to the arrests of nine people and the confiscation of four chainsaws and three vehicles.

“If we catch criminals running a business, we take legal measures,” Sokha said. “But if we discover normal people logging to build their own houses, then we will educate them.”

He added that 85 people, including 23 women and 35 monks, had participated in the sometimes dangerous night patrols in the province.

“Sometimes we face problems because the criminals are armed, but this time they didn’t injure any patrollers,” he said.

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