Port Officials Urged to Speed Up Investigation Into Ivory Seizure

Members of the National Assembly’s anti-corruption commission Monday urged officials at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port to expedite an investigation into the 3-ton haul of elephant ivory they seized in May, and to send the case to court as soon as possible.

The commission is in Sihanoukville to look into the ivory case and other allegations of illegal activity there.

Customs officials in the bayside city confiscated the ivory—more than 500 tusks worth millions of dollars—from a shipment of beans on May 9, the largest such seizure in Cambodia’s history. But the investigation into its origins has stalled as port officials await instructions from above. The Finance Ministry has assembled an ad hoc commission to handle the case.

CNRP lawmaker Vann Narith, secretary of the anti-corruption commission, said six of the body’s nine members arrived in Sihanoukvkille on Sunday and met Monday with officials from the port authority, including customs chief Kin Ly.

“Mr. Kin Ly said he did not want to keep the ivory for long but that it depended on the [Finance Ministry] commission officials to decide, and that he was also concerned about thieves” who might steal the ivory, Mr. Narith said. “We asked him to please push the ivory case and send it to court soon, and he promised he would.”

Mr. Narith said the lawmakers would wrap up their work today before returning to Phnom Penh.

“We will meet with the Preah Sihanouk provincial governor to talk about illegal sand dredging in the sea and the eviction of people living on the beach,” he said, adding that the anti-corruption commission would draft a report about its trip and send it to National Assembly President Heng Samrin.

Mr. Ly confirmed that he discussed the ivory case with the lawmakers Monday.

“We will send the case to court soon,” he said.

Officials have said the containers holding the ivory were consigned by a shipping company named Olair Worldwide Logistics. Representatives of the company deny any wrongdoing and claim another firm used its name to order the ivory.

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