Court Seeking Identity of Rosewood-Smuggling RCAF Soldier

The Kompong Thom Provincial Court is attempting to identify a Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) official who escaped from military police after crashing a truckload of luxury wood into a parked vehicle on Friday night, local authorities said Sunday.

The suspect fled on foot at about 10 p.m. after attempting to speed through two military police checkpoints on National Road 6 with more than a cubic meter of illegally logged rosewood in the bed of his Toyota Tundra, according to Khun Bunhour, Baray district military police commander, where the checkpoints are located.

When the man plowed through a roadblock that had been set up at the first checkpoint, military police stationed there radioed ahead to officers at the second checkpoint, located in front of the district military police headquarters about 3 km down the road, Mr. Bunhour said.

With no barricades at their disposal, he added, officers at the second checkpoint parked a military police SUV in the road in an attempt to stop the smuggler, who was en route to Phnom Penh from Preah Vihear province.

But as the timber-laden Toyota approached, Mr. Bunhour said, “the driver jumped out of his car without turning off the engine, causing it to crash into the military police car.”

“The driver ran away and [we] couldn’t arrest him because it was dark,” he said, explaining that his officers wasted precious seconds chasing the driverless truck, thinking the suspect was still inside.

He said they seized 71 thin planks of rosewood from the Toyota and sent both the truck and its illicit cargo to the provincial court.

Say Nora, a deputy prosecutor at the court, said the truck had RCAF license plates and a decal affixed to the driver-side door bearing the logo of RCAF Division 3’s Unit 7: a white horse rearing up on its hind legs.

“We are investigating [the case] and are writing a letter to the Ministry of Defense to find out who the rosewood-smuggling car with military number plates belongs to,” Mr. Nora said.

General Srey Doek, commander of Division 3, which is headquartered in Preah Vihear province, declined to comment. “I am busy in a meeting. I cannot say anything,” he said.

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