The pickup truck that intentionally rear-ended a police motorbike in Kandal province on Saturday night —killing one officer and seriously injuring another—bore state license plates and has been used by an established timber smuggling outfit, officials said on Monday.
The Toyota Tundra had been providing cover for a Toyota Camry that sped through a police checkpoint in Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district, leading eight police officers to chase the sedan into neighboring Ang Snuol district in Kandal, according to deputy Prek Pnov district police chief Sous Sokha.
“I ordered my police to chase the car because it was speeding. Eight police officers on four motorbikes had been following it for about 1.5 km when the Tundra hit one of the motorbikes from behind,” he said.
“Our police were not able to stop the Tundra because it was driving so fast,” he added.
On Sunday, Prek Pnov district police chief Chhim Kimhuy identified the dead officer as Sao Samnang, 26, and his surviving partner as Keo Siengheng, 24. He said the fleeing vehicle had been loaded with valuable timber, likely illegally logged. On Monday, Mr. Kimhuy said police had identified the owner of the pickup truck that rammed the officers.
“The Tundra was carrying state license plates, but we could not see the number because it was traveling at more than 100 kph,” he said. “We have identified the suspect, but I am not able to provide further information because they will escape [if I do].”
Mr. Sokha was more forthcoming, saying investigators interviewed people living along Street 151, where the collision occurred, and determined that the owner of the Tundra also resided in the area.
After identifying the driver of the Tundra, Mr. Sokha said, police determined that both the truck and sedan were used by a larger group known to transport illegally logged rosewood from Battambang and Pursat provinces.
Mr. Siengheng, who was driving the police motorcycle that was struck from behind, remained unconscious on Monday at Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital, Mr. Sokha said.