Forestry Administration’s Raid On Workshop Prompts Lawsuits

A lawsuit has been lodged at Preah Vihear Provincial Court ac­cusing the province’s deputy forestry administration chief of entering a furniture workshop and confiscating luxury timber, lawyers and court officials said Friday.

Kea Chhay, one of four lawyers who signed the lawsuit, claimed that the forestry administration’s Lim Mao, accompanied by armed guards, entered Ke Sokleang’s workshop in Choam Ksan district without a search warrant on the night of Aug 26 and seized property. Mr Chhay said he did not know how much wood was confiscated, but his client is seeking $20,000 in compensation and the removal of Mr Mao from his position.

Mr Chhay also claimed that the forestry administration officials did not have a search warrant to enter the workshop, and an officer of the court did not accompany them.

“In case the landlord disagrees, [authorities] must obtain a search warrant issued by the court president through the prosecutor. Es­pecially, the prosecutor must lead the search,” Mr Chhay said, noting that such a search cannot be conducted after 6 pm. The workshop was licensed and the wood was obtained legally, Mr Chhay added.

Mr Mao could not be contacted for comment on Friday, however the forestry administration has been engaged in months of raids on locations where illegally logged timber was believed to be stored.

Provincial prosecutor Ly Lon said that Mr Mao had already fined a countersuit accusing the workshop’s attorneys of interfering with government work, and that he would summon the workshop owner for questioning soon.


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