Prey Veng officials crack down on four illegal timber businesses

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Prey Veng provincial authorities crack down on illegal timber locations in Pea Reang district on Tuesday. FACEBOOK

Prey Veng provincial authorities on Tuesday cracked down on four illegal timber locations in the province’s Pea Reang district. Confiscated were four sawmills, several mixed species of timber and several tools used in the illegal operation.

“The evidence will be handed over to the provincial Forestry Administration, pending further legal procedures,” Pea Reang district Military Police commander Has Heang told The Post on Thursday.

The illegal business belonged to Touch Tha, Sor Yoeun, Touch Dam and Leang Phalla, according to Heang.

Prey Veng Forestry Administration chief Khem Aun told The Post that forestry officials had previously uncovered the operations and instructed the suspects to sign contracts vowing to stop their illegal activity, but the culprits continued their operations in secret.

“Specialists are building a case to be filed in court. We accuse the owners of the four locations of conducting andillegal timber business, and will send it to the Prey Veng Provincial Court for further legal action,” he said.

Villagers in Pea Reang district complained that the suspect had felled mango (Mangifera indica), tamarind (Tamarindus indica) and cheu teal (Dipterocarpus alatus) trees belonging to them.

Tha, one of the accused, confirmed to The Post that specialists from the provincial Forestry Administration had indeed educated them and ordered them to sign a contract agreeing to stop the business before the Pchum Ben festival.

He claimed that he ignored orders by the timber mill’s owner to cut down mango and tamarind trees before the Water Festival.

“I acknowledge that I failed to demolish my timber mill as instructed by the specialists. But I also avoided carrying out orders that contradict the agreement before the Pchum Ben festival,” he said.

Tha argued that he had sought permission from authorities to open a legitimate timber mill, but specialists said they were too busy with missions to Phnom Penh to move forward, ultimately forcing him to give up.