Illegal Logs Stashed in Pond, Military Truck in Stung Treng

Military police in Stung Treng province found several hundred pieces of illegally logged wood in two separate cases over the weekend, including a pickup truck bearing a military license plate packed with luxury-grade timber.

On Sunday, more than 700 logs were found sunk and floating in a pond in Sesan district, according to a report posted to the National Police website on Monday.

The report says an area resident, who was not identified, told authorities that a woman had stashed the timber in the pond after bribing unspecified local authorities to keep quiet.

Kbal Romeas commune chief Voeun Sambath said most of the wood appeared to be luxury-grade Thnong and that authorities were still in the process of dragging it out of the water.

“Based on its appearance, authorities concluded that the wood was left there about a month ago,” he said. “The military police are investigating.”

In a separate case on Saturday, military police in Stung Treng City found 36 planks of Thnong and Beng—also luxury grade—in the bed of a pickup with a Royal Cambodian Armed Forces license plate, city police chief Chhuck Komal said on Monday.

Mr. Komal said the driver of the truck was at large, but declined further comment and referred additional questions to the military police.

Provincial military police chief Ing Vandy could not be reached and his deputy, Duong Vichet, said he was not authorized to speak with the media.

National military police spokesman Eng Hy said he was not aware of either case.

Both the military and military police have been implicated by police and forestry officials in multiple illegal logging cases across the country, sometimes forcing local authorities to give up recently seized logs at gunpoint. Arrests of the soldiers and police involved in the trade, however, are rare.

The most notorious alleged timber smuggler in Cambodia, Try Pheap, implicated by multiple NGO investigations, is an advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

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