Phnom Penh Municipal Court officials have traveled to Ratanakkiri province to investigate the alleged involvement of the recently removed provincial governor, chief of police and senior RCAF commander in a massive illegal logging operation in 2004, officials said.
Ratanakkiri’s former governor Kham Khoeun, provincial police chief Yoeung Baloung and sub-military region commander Moeung Samoeun were transferred from their positions last month amid investigations into the multimillion-dollar illegal logging operation in Virachey National Park.
Municipal Court Director Chiv Keng said Wednesday that officials embarked on the evidence-gathering mission last week.
“The investigation will finish soon, but it is quite difficult,” he said. He declined to reveal if evidence had been gathered that would lead to the charging of the three officials.
Thuk Kroeun Vutha, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Environment, confirmed Thursday that court officials had traveled to the provincial capital of Banlung but did not know the details of their investigation.
Chiv Keng also said that the three officials have not yet shown up for work at their new government jobs. Kham Khoeun and Yoeung Baloung were transferred to the Interior Ministry on Jan 23 and Moeung Samoeun was posted to the RCAF Military Region One base in Kompong Cham province on the same day.
Yoeung Baloung denied the allegation on Thursday.
“I came here four or five days ago. We are working as normal: There is no problem,” he said.
Kham Khoeun and Moeung Samoeun could not be reached for comment, but Yoeung Baloung said the former governor was in Vietnam for a medical examination.
Kham Khoeun has denied any involvement in illegal logging in the national park also known as the Dragon’s Tail and has claimed he was tied to the incident because he helped uncover it.