The commander of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces company 7 in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district yesterday denied that his officers demanded a $1,500 bribe from migrant workers returning from Thailand with nearly a tonne of timber.
The news appeared on local media and later on the National Police website alleging that officers of RCAF company 7 attempted to negotiate with seven migrant workers who carried 800 kilograms of rosewood, demanding $1,500 from them.
The workers offered only $1,000, which was rejected so the workers decided to burn the timber instead, according to a National Police report.
It said the workers carried the timber on their backs as they passed the office of RCAF company 7 in Trapaing Tao commune on the way to hide the timber at their homes.
However, three military officers caught them and found the timber. The officers tried to bring them to their office to negotiate, but did not accept the workers’ final offer so the workers decided to burn it, according to the police report.
Provincial, district and commune police officers contacted yesterday said they were not informed about the case, while deputy district police chief Heng Has claimed he would check with his officers.
Commune police chief Pou Daung said he was not aware of the case, but noted that bribery happened often along the border.
“Both the migrant workers and the military officers along that border are wicked because they normally demand bribes and they never cooperate with us even though our government announced the elimination of all illegal checkpoints,” he said.
Ros Saroun, commander of RCAF company 7, denied that his officers ever sought a bribe from the migrant workers as alleged.
“Yesterday, I was not there so I am not aware of it. In the past two days, there haven’t been any irregularities. Our forces are patrolling along the border to curb crime,” he said.
According to the National Police report, Mr Saroun said he received a phone call from someone asking to negotiate, but he declined. However, he told Khmer Times there was no call.
“Nobody called me about the negotiation. There are no big forestry crimes here, just one or two villagers secretly entering Thailand that we have had difficulty stopping,” he said.
Mr Saroun again noted that nothing irregular happened with his officers.
“If it is true, there should be evidence,” he said.