Oknha detained in Kratie prison for forestry crimes

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After detaining Kong Kreung and his son-in-law Math Naseat, Military Police and court officials inspect Kreung’s house. KBN News

A Kratie provincial investigating judge has ordered well-known timber trader and oknha (tycoon) Kong Kroeng, and his son-in-law Math Naseat, to be detained at the provincial prison after they were questioned last week about their alleged role in forestry crimes.

The order said Kroeng and Naseat were to be put under court supervision for this and last year “harvesting forestry products without lawful permits and exporting forestry products without any legal licence” in Chrab Thmey village, in Snuol district’s Snuol commune, according to paragraph two, points one and seven, of Article 98 of the Forestry Law.

It said the Military Police were tasked with sending the pair to prison where they were to remain until a new order is issued.

The investigation judge said Kroeng, a 55-year-old a military official, was born in Takeo province’s Kiri Vong district.

Naseat, a 38-year-old Cham Muslim, was born in Tbong Khmum province’s Ponhea Kraek district and was most recently living in Kratie province’s Snuol district where he was working as a craftsman, the judge said.

Kroeng and Naseat were put into Military Police custody by the National Committee for Prevention and Crackdown on Natural Resource Crimes on Thursday after being questioned at the provincial Military Police headquarters.

After he was detained, authorities spent Friday morning inspecting Kroeng’s house and timber processing facility in Kratie province.

The arrests were implemented directly by General Sao Sokha – the deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of the National Military Police – and facilitated by the provincial prosecutor.

Eng Hy, the spokesman for the National Military Police and the National Committee for Prevention and Crackdown on Natural Resource Crimes, told The Post on Sunday that the committee would continue taking stern action against those committing forestry crimes.

“Those who commit offences will be held accountable to the law. We are carrying on with our strategy to eliminate all forms of deforestation.

“We would also like to request that all stakeholders, governmental officials, Military Police and citizens cooperate in preventing crime and preserving our forests forever,” he said.

Kratie provincial Military Police Commander San Bunthan could not be reached for comment about the inspection of Kroeng’s premises.

Forest activist Heng Sros applauded the crackdown on forest crimes but requested the court to renew its investigation to reveal Kroeng’s other accomplices.

“He couldn’t manage to commit these crimes without other people’s help. We demand that the authorities not only investigate Kong Kroeng’s case but also investigate other stakeholders who have benefited for years from this illegal deforestation and unlawful timber smuggling to Vietnam,” Sros said.