Authorities Mum on Wood Trafficker’s Whereabouts

Authorities on Friday said the case against a prominent timber-trafficker in Stung Treng province was being “processed,” but declined to identify her whereabouts a day after her supposed arrest at a Forestry Administration office where some of the wood was being stored.

Military police said they arrested Heng Samneang, better known as Yeay Proeung, on Thursday after she and a group of stick-wielding associates attempted to recover a pile of timber that officials had seized earlier in the day.

National military police spokes­man Eng Hy said on Thursday that those officers had handed Ms. Samneang over to local forestry officials for detention. However, forestry officials said they never saw her.

“The military police conducted the arrest so I don’t know anything about her,” Sar Vuthy, head of the Forestry Administration’s O’pang Moan triage office, said on Friday before hanging up.

Mr. Hy was also tight lipped about Ms. Samneang’s whereabouts, saying repeatedly, “The case is being processed.”

Tun Yoeut, a deputy prosecutor at the Stung Treng Provincial Court, said she knew little about the situation and also did not know where Ms. Samneang was being held.

“I can only confirm that the case file has already arrived at the court,” she said.

Ms. Samneang has long been accused of running an illicit timber business. The evidence reached a boiling point last month, when she called a meeting to blast local journalists for tipping off police about her activities in spite of bribing them not to do so.

“I am making a business for a little bit of money and I share it with people,” Ms. Samneang says in a video posted to Facebook. “If they mistreat me, they will die from their car overturning.”

Forestry Administration officials have not explained why they had not previously detained Ms. Samneang. Last month, authorities said they had stopped five of her wood-laden trucks from illegally crossing into Vietnam.

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