Five Men Released Despite Logging Accusations

Five men arrested in Mondolkiri province on Sunday while transporting timber allegedly logged illegally inside the Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary have been released by the provincial court.

The military’s 103 border unit, which made the arrests, says they followed the men out of the sanctuary and caught them en route to the Unigreen rubber plantation with no license for the first-grade wood.

The Forestry Administration claims Unigreen had the required license.

On Thursday, a court spokesman said the group was released Wednesday night.

“There is not enough evidence to accuse them,” So Sovichea said.

Yin Chanthy, the border unit’s commander, said the timber was logged illegally from the sanctuary, but that he was powerless to contest the release.

A Unigreen representative said the men worked for Ouk Rithy, a businessman not associated with the company who last year bought 240 cubic meters of unlicensed wood that authorities had seized from Unigreen’s plantation and auctioned off.

The representative, who requested anonymity, said the timber the men were transporting was not part of the sale and came from outside the plantation.

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