R’kiri Police Stop Timber Headed for Vietnam

Ratanakkiri provincial police on Friday halted seven truckloads full of timber that were being transported to Vietnam by a little-known land concession firm in Stung Treng prov­ince, police said Monday.

But the trucks were returned to the company the same day after for­estry officials with the Ministry of Agriculture intervened, telling police the timber had been logged legally, said Hor Ang, first deputy provincial police chief, who ordered the Friday raid on the convoy.

“It is legal timber licensed by the government,” he said. “But the com­pany does not have a permission for export yet.”

He said 108 cubic meters of timber were found in the trucks, and that permission had been given by the forestry administration department in Phnom Penh for them to be transported to Ratanakkiri, but not to Vietnam.

“This wood costs about $50,000 if taxed,” Hor Ang said. “It is good wood.”

Lim Mao, deputy director of Rat­an­akkiri’s forestry department, said the wood was unloaded in O’Ya­daw district’s Pok Nhai commune, about 10 km from the Vietnamese border.

Va Vuthara, Stung Treng prov­ince deputy governor, said the land concession firm transporting the timber belongs to Keo Vuthy, who he claimed is a RCAF colonel from military intelligence Unit 911.

He added that the firm, which provincial officers identified as Cassava Flour Production Com­pany and said grows cassava and eu­calyptus in a 78,000-hectare concession, has been seen logging trees for years before transporting them to Kratie province and Phnom Penh via the Mekong river.

“They clear luxury trees to grow eucalyptus,” he said.

Va Vuthara said he had heard that the firm wanted to export the wood for the construction of a railway in Vietnam.

Keo Vuthy could not be contacted on Monday. Mol Roeup, director of military intelligence for the Min­istry of Defense, would not confirm whether Keo Vuthy was part of his unit.

“True or not true, it’s the business of my unit. I cannot reveal it to you,” he said.


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