Official Linked to Rosewood Smuggling Files Complaints

A police official in Kompong Thom said Wednesday he had filed a complaint against court and law enforcement officials after authorities searched his estate and arrested his brother over a large haul of illegally logged rosewood abandoned on his property by a trio of timber smugglers.

Led by provincial court prosecutor Ith Sothea, a team of police and military police seized the rosewood from three cars they had pursued to the Prasat Balaing district home of Yim Phoan, deputy chief of the province’s anti-economic crime police. Many of the 55 luxury-grade logs were marked with the name “Phoan,” according to the prosecutor.

The three drivers ran inside Mr. Phoan’s house, then fled on foot when officers entered the premises, Mr. Sothea said at the time. While Mr. Phoan was not at home, his younger brother, Yit Sovan, 37, and Mr. Sovan’s wife, Lim Neat, 34—who were house-sitting at the time—were both arrested on suspicion of colluding with the smugglers, he said.

Mr. Sovan was charged with forestry crimes and jailed, but his wife was released.

Mr. Phoan has denied he was involved in the attempt to smuggle rosewood and claimed Mr. Sothea has long been trying to link him to the illicit timber trade.

“I filed a complaint at the Sala Visay commune police station this afternoon accusing the prosecutor of giving an order to police and military police to inspect my house without a court warrant,” he said Wednesday.

“I also filed a complaint against a group of provincial police and provincial military police because they entered my house, handcuffed my younger brother and then put him in jail,” he added. “Those people are authorities, but they acted like robbers because they confiscated a telephone from my younger brother and did not allow him to contact me.”

Despite Mr. Phoan’s protests, Investigating Judge Khorn Sakol said he would issue a summons for Mr. Phoan today, ordering him to appear before the court soon.

[email protected]

Related Stories

Latest News