Suspect Logs Found on Plantation

Authorities in Ratanakkiri province have found more piles of possibly illegally logged wood as part of the government’s ongoing sweep of eastern Cambodia for illicit timber stocks, this time on a rubber plantation owned by wealthy businessman Soung Vang.

Soeng Sokny, deputy governor of Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat district, said on Thursday that his staff found three piles of squared-off, first-grade Sokrom logs totaling about 100 cubic meters on Wednesday, following a tip from residents the day before, as well as a local media report.

“The three piles of wood are located on the ELC [economic land concession] of the Soung Vang company, about 500 meters from the O’Tang River,” he said.

“But I am not sure whether the wood belongs to the company,” he added. “We do not dare to conclude yet that the wood belongs to the Soung Vang company because probably some loggers were keeping the wood on the land.”

Although the company has not yet been questioned, Mr. Sokny said he was nearly certain the plantation did not own the wood legally, reasoning that it would have stored the logs at a more secure location if it did.

“We think the wood is illegal because it was being hidden in the forest,” he said. “If the wood belonged to the company, it would have been kept properly.”

The deputy governor said his officials also found about 20 more pieces of Sokrom already sawn into long planks and hidden in the river itself, but was not sure whether the location was also on the plantation, which sits inside the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary.

Eng Hy, spokesman for the National Military Police, which is spearheading the search for illegal timber stocks in the east, said authorities were in the process of pulling the planks out of the river and that he did not know whether the location was inside the plantation, either.

Mr. Vang could not be reached.

The discoveries are only the latest in the government’s sweep of the eastern provinces, which began in mid-January and has uncovered dozens of piles of undocumented wood on several plantations.

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