Ratanakkiri Official in Court for Logging Case

Ratanakkiri’s provincial deputy police chief appeared at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednes­day to discuss the massive illegal logging scandal discovered in 2004 in the province’s Virachey National Park, officials said.

Kham Vann attended court along with Sam Sony, a provincial environment official, over logging in the remote border territory otherwise known as the Dragon’s Tail, officials said.

“I just brought some documents from Ratanakkiri [provincial] court to the Phnom Penh court,” Kham Vann said, adding that there was nothing important in the documents.

Sam Sony could not be contacted.

A court official said on condition of anonymity that the two men provided information showing that senior provincial officials were not involved in the multi-million dollar scandal.

Thuk Kroeunvutha, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Environment, which filed the complaint that led to the court’s investigation of the case, said the court has not been in contact with the ministry about the case. He added that if four men for whom warrants have been issued over the case are ar­rested, they may be able to shed some light on it.

Arrest warrants have been issued for former park director Koy Sokha, former Border Police Unit 203 commander Phon Sophat and his two deputies Liam Say and Keo Louna, who have been charg­ed by the municipal court with taking bribes and destroying the environment.

Senior government officials have said Phon Sophat and Keo Louna are hiding in Phnom Penh while Koy Sokha and Liam Say are hiding in Laos.


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