Court Officials Investigating Logging in R’kiri

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.


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