Off-Duty Officers Arrested After Chasing Timber-Loaded Van

Six off-duty police, military police and military officers were arrested on Wednesday afternoon after chasing a van full of timber across provinces while blaring their horns, firing into the air and piling the wood into three cars once the van’s driver stopped and ran away, a police official said.

Eighteen planks of first-grade Sokrom and Phchoek wood were confiscated from the scene of the arrests in Kompong Cham province, and two AK-47 assault rifles were found in the officers’ cars, deputy provincial police chief Heng Sambath said.

The men were from neighboring Tbong Khmum province, Mr. Sambath said. The wood had originated from Kratie province, to the north, and the officers began to chase the van westward as it passed through Tbong Khmum district in the morning, he said.

After midday, the convoy chase had driven into Kompong Cham, and turned off National Road 6 onto a dirt road in Batheay district’s Pha’av commune, he said.

One of the military officers then fired into the air, chasing the driver away and leading the Kompong Cham police chief to issue an order to all districts to prevent the officers from escaping, Mr. Sambath said.

“They were arrested when they were on their way back to Tbong Khmum, taking the wood in their cars,” he said. “They didn’t have official permission to chase the van. Their bosses hadn’t allowed them to fire either.”

The six men—one from the police, two from military police, and three from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces—stood accused of illegal weapons possession or of being accomplices, Mr. Sambath said.

The officers were being questioned by police and a decision had yet to be made whether they would be sent to court, he said.

He named the six men as police officer Phon Veasna, military police officers Khem Sothearoth and Vann Sot, and RCAF soldiers Cheat Samnang, Ket Dara and Mao Oeun.

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