Illegal Wood Found Near Military Police Base

Environment Ministry officials on Thursday found a cache of more than 400 pieces of illegally logged first-grade wood in Ratanakkiri province’s Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary, which the ministry oversees, and suspect officers from a nearby military police base of being involved.

Thin Ngoal, the sanctuary’s deputy director, said the officials found the 418 pieces of Sokrom wood inside the protected area about a kilometer from the local security office of the provincial military police, which is also located inside the sanctuary.

“We are now collecting the wood,” he said. “We will transport the wood to…our office and wait for a decision [on what to do with the wood] from the upper level.”

Mr. Ngoal said his officials were still searching for the individuals who logged the wood, but laid suspicion on the military police.

“We cannot conclude that the provincial military police’s security office is involved with this wood. But if they are not involved with the wood, why didn’t they know about it? Because the wood was dropped near the office,” he said.

It is not uncommon for members of the country’s armed forces to be caught transporting illegally logged wood across the country.

But Ratanakkiri’s military police commander, Kim Raksmey, said his officers were not involved in logging or stockpiling the wood found near the security office Thursday.

“I want to deny that my military police officers were dealing in the wood,” he said. “I think the officials from the wildlife sanctuary should be responsible for the wood because the wood is on the land that they control.”

Lumphat district governor Kong Srun said his office regularly receives reports of illegal logging inside the sanctuary—and of trucks hauling it away under the cover of darkness—but rarely sees the sanctuary’s overseers take action.

“We, the local authority, have no power to stop those people from logging in the forest because it is under the control of the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary,” he said.

“No one [from my office] is able to enter the forest because the wildlife sanctuary has guns.”

[email protected]

Related Stories

Latest News

The Weekly DispatchA weekly newsletter from The Cambodia Daily delivering news, analysis and opinion to your inbox. Published every Friday at 11:30am. Sign up today.