Timber extortion alleged

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times No Comments Share:

Three people who claimed to be staff members of an environmental organisation have been charged with extorting money from villagers in exchange for letting them keep illegally harvested timber.
 
Huon Heng, 47, Heng Hong, 43, and Ly Long, 23, said they belonged to a body called Interception Forestry and Wild Animals Violation in Pursat province.
 
Krakor district deputy police chief Em Sok said that on Monday morning, the trio apprehended villagers with seven hand tractors carrying timber from a forest.
 
The villagers said they were going to use the wood to construct homes for themselves.  
 
Mr Sok said the suspects accused the villagers of illegally cutting down trees from protected forests.
 
The trio demanded 200,000 riel ($50) per tractor in exchange for allowing the villagers to take the timber home. But after negotiations, they agreed on 100,000 riel ($25) per tractor.
 
“They were arrested based on villagers’ complaints,” Mr Sok said.  
 
The trio were sent yesterday to Pursat provincial court for questioning and were charged by the prosecutor with making threats and extortion.
 
The charges carry jail terms of up to two years.

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