Timber, trucks seized in forest crimes crackdown
More than 15 cubic metres of timber and a total of 15 trucks were seized by the National Committee for the Prevention of and Crackdown on Natural Resources Crimes in eight cases on Sunday, while six people were released in Pursat province after paying fines.
Committee spokesman Eng Hy said the cases were in Kratie, Mondulkiri, Preah Vihear and Ratanakkiri provinces.
The committee seized 43 large logs, measuring 15.632 cubic metres, which were impounded at the Forestry Administrations in each province.
More than 10 trucks and motorbikes were destroyed by setting them on fire, but four trucks which were in good condition were kept.
Pursat province’s Phnom Kravanh district Military Police commander Chan Sokha said that on Thursday, his forces cracked down on an unlicensed timber transportation operation.
He said six people were detained and they, six trucks loaded with wood and six home-made tractors were handed over to the local Forestry Administration.
“The six suspects are people who always log trees and we arrested and questioned them before handing them over to Forestry Administration officials on the same day,” Sokha said.
Provincial Agriculture Department Director Lay Viseth said on Monday that the six suspects were released a few days later after being fined and forced to sign a contract promising not to repeat the crime, but he did not know the amount they were fined.
“The six trucks were returned to them, but the six home-made tractors were set on fire at the site. We are working to stamp out other crimes,” he said.
Kuch Veng, an activist in the province, supported the legal action but urged relevant authorities to work harder.
“I used to advocate [having the crimes busted], but it hasn’t been effective. In return, I was sued and jailed."
“Now, they are working to crack down on the problem and I support what they’re doing. They should keep working to arrest criminals and bring them to justice,” Veng said.
However, he said the seized machinery, such as trucks and tractors, should not have been destroyed because they could be used by the authorities to serve the public interest.
The committee has been working to crack down on forest crimes nationwide.
Oknha Soeng Sam Ol and three alleged accomplices were recently placed in pre-trial detention at Mondulkiri provincial prison on allegations they were involved in forest crimes.
A total of nine people who were summoned for questioning in the matter are currently on the run.