Wood-Trading Official Had Been Warned

A police official who fled his home in Mondolkiri province over the weekend after a journalist reported him for stockpiling valuable timber was previously warned about keeping illegally logged wood on his property, authorities said on Wednesday.

Suos Vora, a deputy police chief in Keo Seima district, and Mr. Vora’s younger brother, Suos Angkea, a local border police official, absconded from their residence on Sunday when Forestry Administration officials showed up to inspect a pile of Beng, Thnong and Chambak wood stored there.

Before the officials arrived, however, the brothers detained Apsara News Network reporter Doem Soeun—whom they caught peering into their compound from atop a mango tree—and threatened to beat him, according to Mr. Soeun, who said he had tipped off the Forestry Administration.

On Wednesday, provincial police chief Touch Yun said Mr. Vora had a history of involvement in the illicit timber business. A year ago, he said, the deputy police chief was made to sign an agreement promising to stop keeping illegally sourced wood on his property.

“With this bad official, we made an agreement with him once already and this is a second time,” he said. “We must find him to educate him at the provincial police headquarters.”

Both Mr. Vora and Mr. Angkea will be punished according to internal police rules, Mr. Yun said, declining to elaborate.

Mr. Soeun, the reporter, said he attempted to file a complaint against the brothers at the Mondolkiri Provincial Court for the second day in a row on Wednesday, but was again stymied by deputy prosecutor Chea Sovannthet, who told him the complaint lacked sufficient information.

Mr. Sovannthet confirmed that he had asked Mr. Soeun to return to the courthouse today to finish filing the complaint, declining to say what was missing.

Deputy provincial police chief So Sovann said the whereabouts of Mr. Vora and his brother were unknown.

“After the district police chief sends us the report, we will hold a meeting with the provincial police chief to consider punishing them according to [police] rules: educate them, file a complaint or, maybe, suspend them,” he said.

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