Rosewood-Laden Car Crashes Into Motorbike; Driver Flees

Police in Kompong Cham province are searching for the driver of a Toyota Camry who rear-ended a moto-taxi driver and his passenger on Sunday while speeding toward the Vietnamese border with a haul of illegally logged rosewood, police said Monday.

The sedan plowed into the motorbike on National Road 7 in Chamkar Loeu district just after 7 a.m. on Sunday, sending its driver, Mom Chhum, 53, and passenger, Khim Phary, 50, skidding across the asphalt, according to deputy district police chief Lim Sothy.

“The car was speeding and then crashed into the back of the motorbike, injured two people and then sped away,” Mr. Sothy said, adding that Mr. Chhum’s head was split open after his helmet cracked apart, while Ms. Phary suffered a broken hip. Both were treated for their injuries at local hospitals, he said.

Mr. Sothy said police found the Camry about 40 km from the scene of the accident, ditched in an abandoned plot of land off the highway in Kompong Siem district. The driver had fled by the time police arrived, he said.

“We could not catch the car immediately after the accident because the car was speeding and our officers were on motorbikes,” Mr. Sothy said.

The reason for the driver’s apparent hurry became clear to police, however, when they inspected the car.

“After checking the car, police found 147 pieces of illegal rosewood inside,” said provincial traffic police chief Long Meng Se, whose officers joined the chase on Sunday morning.

Mr. Meng Se said the luxury-grade timber—it is illegal to harvest rosewood in Cambodia and export its unprocessed form—filled the trunk and backseat of the sedan.

He said the illicit cargo was destined for Vietnam via Tbong Khmum province, and that both the car and rosewood were being kept at the provincial police headquarters while investigators attempted to track down the driver and identify the owner of the wood.

“We don’t know who the owner of the rosewood is yet. We are investigating,” he said.

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