Truck Carrying Illegal Wood Overturns in R’kiri

Local rights group Adhoc on Thursday said that illegal logging in Ratanakkiri province is on the rise and accused the province’s For­est­ry Administration of conspiring with those committing the illegal act.

Adhoc provincial coordinator Pen Bonnar said by telephone that a Hino truck loaded with Thnung- cut luxury timber had overturned at 4 am on Thurs­day in Banlung town as it was headed to neighboring Vietnam.

Forestry Administration officials and their staff arrived at the scene in Banlung and transferred all of the illegal timber, about 15 cubic meters worth, to their offices, Mr Bonnar said, adding that a similar truck had already made it into Vietnam.

“If the truck didn’t overturn, it would have been gone,” he said.

Mr Bonnar blamed authorities for allowing illegal logging to occur in the province.

“This is the conspiracy between [loggers] and the Forestry Admin­istration, but no one has ever been punished,” Mr Bonnar said.

“Luxury wood forests are almost destroyed in the province,” he said, adding that the illegal timber was being transferred by a businessman named Sin Thon.

Forestry Administration chief You Kanvimean said Thursday that he was in Phnom Penh and un­aware of the overturned truck carrying illegal timber. However, he denied that FA officials were conspiring with illegal loggers.

“How can authorities conspire with the criminals? I don’t understand Pen Bonnar,” he said. “There is no conspiracy.”

Currently on the run, businessman Sin Thon said by telephone that it was his truck that overturned in Banlung on Thursday. When asked if the truck was indeed carrying illegal timber, he said: “Yes. Yes.”

“Right or wrong, I apologize,” he said, adding that “it was my first time.”

“I speak the truth. I am running now,” Mr Thon said.



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