Military Officer Arrested for Bridge Damage

A Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) officer who fled the scene after his overloaded truck caused almost $50,000 in damage to a small iron bridge in Kampot province last week was arrested in Kompong Speu province on Saturday morning, military police said on Sunday.

After being informed of the incident, in which the truck also spilled its haul of first-grade timber on the road, it took military police a week to track down 37-year-old Choeun Theng, a sergeant major living in neighboring Kompong Speu province, deputy Kampot military police chief Hem Chandara said on Sunday.

“He was arrested in the Chinese-noodle restaurant while he was eating noodles in the morning,” he said, adding that the arrest was made at about 8 a.m. near in Kompong Speu’s Oral district by military police officers from both provinces.

Declining to explain how Mr. Theng had been identified as the truck’s owner, he said the investigation had initially been hampered because Mr. Theng—an officer in RCAF Division 3—had removed the licence plates from the truck before fleeing.

Mr. Chandara said that Mr. Theng had already paid the $49,000 in repair costs for the bridge, plus $7,000 in fines for overloading his vehicle.

“He admitted that it was his truck,” he said. “Therefore, he wanted to be responsible for it.”

Mr. Chandara said a new steel bridge had been completed on Wednesday.

He added that Mr. Theng was being held at Kampot provincial military police headquarters and would be sent to the provincial court today over the transportation of illegally felled timber.

Speaking last week, provincial transportation department head Lim Sambor said he was unaware of the provenance of the wood, but that local residents had said the wood had likely come from the Phnom Aural Wildlife Sanctuary—located in the same district where Mr. Theng lived.

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