The Siem Reap Provincial Court charged three men Wednesday with illegally logging luxury rosewood inside the Angkor Archaeological Park, a Unesco world heritage site, officials said.
Provincial prosecutor Heng Pheng said the suspects had been identified as Sun Phearak, 20, Phay Sophea, 18, and Phin Ron, 53.
“We charged three people with forestry destruction and gathering natural resources without permission, and the offenders were sent to a judge who will investigate the logging case,” provincial prosecutor Heng Pheng said, adding that the suspects face between 5 and 10 years in prison and fines of between 5 million to 15 million riel, or $1,250 to $1,750.
Hong Daravuth, chief of the provincial environment department, said that the three men had arrived in the restricted area on a motorcycle at about 1 a.m. on Tuesday and were arrested after they were caught splitting two rosewood trees into smaller pieces with a large saw at the site.
“We questioned the three people and then we went to inspect the logging and found two rosewood tree stumps,” Mr. Daravuth said, adding that the area was strictly protected and that all logging in the area was illegal.
Two smaller logs were also found in the men’s homes when searched, according to provincial heritage police chief Man Chhoeun.
“They felled the two rosewood trees and then they cut them into four pieces, two had already been transported to their homes by motorbike,” Mr. Chhoeun said, adding that the case was the third incident of illegal logging in the park in the past month.
“For the two other cases, there were no arrests because the loggers escaped into the forest,” he said.
One man also escaped arrest on Tuesday morning, Mr. Chhoeun said. “We are looking for another person who escaped but we know his identity,” he said.