Platoon Commander Removed For Alleged Wood Smuggling

Military officials in Banteay Meanchey province have removed a local platoon commander from his post for alleged wood smuggling after he evaded detention by fellow soldiers earlier in the week, but it remained unclear whether he would be fired or prosecuted.

Phork Sambath, a deputy military commander in the province, said Prum Bunnoeun, the commander of a local platoon, was suspected of smuggling wood and removed from his post on Tuesday.

“Mr. Bunnoeun was removed from his position at the provincial military headquarters on Tuesday and we promoted his deputy commander to be acting commander because he was involved in a wood deal,” Mr. Sambath said.

He said the wood was being held at the headquarters but declined to name the type of wood or say how much of it there was. Mr. Sambath said he did not know whether the suspect’s removal was permanent.

“I am not sure if Mr. Bunnoeun was removed from his position forever because this is a decision for the upper levels,” he said.

Plon Dara, the military commander for the province, declined to comment.

Nay Pov, the chief of Kork Romiet meat commune in Thma Puok district, said he saw local soldiers try and fail to stop Mr. Bunnoeun’s car on Monday night as he drove toward the platoon base, evading a series of roadblocks along the way.

“The man was driving this Toyota Highlander and tried to hit a group of military officers when they tried to stop his car from getting inside the military base,” he said.

Rights group Adhoc said Mr. Bunnoeun was a well-known wood smuggler in the area.

“We have know that this man was dealing wood for a long time, but no local authorities dared to take action,” said Soum Chankea, the group’s provincial coordinator.

Am Sam Ath, a technical supervisor for rights group Licadho, said the platoon commander should be fired and prosecuted if the evidence against him is strong in order to deter others.

“We welcome the suspension so an investigation can be opened,” he said. “If the investigation finds that he is guilty, he should be sent to court, following the law. Otherwise, other people will not respect the law.”

[email protected]

Related Stories

Latest News

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