A Royal Cambodian Armed Forces captain accused of timber trafficking in Kompong Speu province was charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday with collecting and stocking timber without a permit.
Choeung Theng, of the military’s Region 3 in Kompong Speu province, was charged under the Forestry Law and placed in provisional detention at Prey Sar prison on the city’s outskirts, said Sous Vithearandy, deputy chief of the municipal court’s secretariat.
In December, authorities seized about 57 cubic meters of unlicensed timber, more than a quarter of it luxury-grade Thnong—among the most valuable timber species in Cambodia—after raiding the furniture depot of his wife, Kou Sokhoeun, in Kompong Speu.
Authorities did not name Mr. Theng as a suspect at the time. Previously, Moung Thy, the governor of Kompong Speu’s Oral district, had referred to his military rank as major.
On Thursday, however, Seang Chanthy, the military police commander of Kandal’s Takhmao City, said the Phnom Penh court issued an arrest warrant for the captain on Wednesday and that he was soon arrested there while driving through the city.
Kompong Speu provincial governor Vey Samnang said the arrest followed a lengthy investigation.
“Our officials were investigating for a long time and we found out that Choeung Theng really was committing forest crimes, so we filed a complaint with the provincial court to arrest him,” he said.
Mr. Vithearandy, of the Phnom Penh court, said he did not
know why or when the case had been transferred to the capital.
As for the captain’s wife, Mr. Thy, Oral’s district governor, said military police arrived on Thursday with an arrest warrant for her, but she escaped.