A commune police chief and a Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) border police commander were arrested in Ratanakkiri province on Friday for involvement in “forestry crime,” according to officials, who would not go into detail about what crime the pair had committed.
The police chief of Paknhai commune in O’Yadaw district, Poy Chrouch, and the border protection commander for Sesan commune, Rocham Em, were arrested by military police for their role in logging activities in the commune, according to deputy provincial court prosecutor Mam Vanda, who said he ordered the arrests.
“The two of them have been arrested today for questioning over their involvement in forestry crime,” Mr. Vanda said. “Before we decided to order military police to arrest them for questioning, we conducted a primary investigation early this month as well as a second round of investigation. Then we found that the two were deeply involved in forestry crime.”
Mr. Vanda said the men would be questioned by the provincial court on Saturday over alleged violations of Article 100 of the Forestry Law, which refers to “forest exploitation or other activities” committed by police, military or government officials. It carries a penalty of one to five years in prison and a fine of between $2,500 and $25,000.
The deputy prosecutor said “multiple sources” had complained about the men’s involvement in illegal logging, but declined to elaborate on what their activities entailed.
However, Chhay Thy, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the men were known locally to be involved in smuggling wood across the border to Vietnam.
“Their arrest was made following a confession from six Vietnamese loggers arrested in November for logging on Cambodian soil around the border,” he said.
“Our investigation found that the jailed Vietnamese loggers arrested in November claimed they were authorized to log by the arrested police and RCAF military border soldier.”
Ngoy Dorn, acting police chief of O’Yadaw district, confirmed the arrest of the local police officer but said he too was not clear on the specific crime Mr. Chrouch was accused of committing.