A brigadier general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) whose home and rubber plantation in Mondolkiri province were raided by police over the weekend said Monday that he was not responsible for the dozens of pieces of illegal luxury wood confiscated during two separate searches of his property.
On Saturday, a team of more than 20 provincial and military police descended on the house in Keo Seima district’s Sre Khtum commune following reports that Brigadier General Chhit Meng Sreng, who is chief of the provincial RCAF unit, was transporting illegal luxury wood through a rubber plantation behind the residence.
Provincial police chief Nhem Vanny said that seven pieces of luxury wood were recovered on Saturday from the house and two more from Brig. Gen. Meng Sreng’s car, while 48 more pieces were seized during a subsequent search on Sunday involving more than 50 police and military police. No arrests were made.
Brig. Gen. Meng Sreng on Monday contested the claim made by police that they found luxury wood inside his car, and said that the 48 pieces of luxury wood seized on Sunday were not found on his 10-hectare plantation.
“Police found the timber in a rubber field, but it was not my rubber field, it was outside my land, so this is a false allegation against me,” he said, though he admitted that the wood found in the house belonged to him.
“I accept that police found timber inside my house, but I was keeping the timber to build a gate at the front of my house.”
Brig. Gen. Meng Sreng said he is not worried about being arrested as he is innocent and cooperated freely with the investigation but he denied that police presented any search warrant, as was reported by the provincial police chief, Mr. Vanny.
“I wanted to file a complaint against the authorities because they have destroyed my reputation…but I changed my mind because I want to put an end to the problem,” he said, adding that he would refund a reporter the price of the phone call for writing a favorable story about him.
Provincial Governor Eng Bunheang said authorities were still working on the case.
“If the authorities find he is guilty, Brig. Gen. Chhit Meng Sreng could face the law,” he said.