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Environment Officials Deny Forest Crimes

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A letter sent to authorities in Siem Reap province on Monday by nine park rangers accusing two senior environment officials of involvement in illegally cutting down six trees for profit was dismissed as a lie by one of the accused yesterday, who instead insisted it was the rangers who felled the trees.
Sim Chhiy Chheanpiseth, deputy director of Siem Reap province’s environment department, and Sous Sakhan, deputy director of Jayavarman Norodom Kulen Mountain National Park, were accused by nine national park rangers of ordering the logging of the six trees, in a letter sent to the environment department’s director and obtained by Khmer Times yesterday.
“These two people ordered their officials to cut down six big trees on Kulen Mountain and transport them away, which made the villagers surprised when it was revealed,” the letter reads.
The letter states that the timber was intended for carvings that would be sold to a local pagoda.
None of the nine rangers could be reached for comment.
However, Mr. Chheanpiseth refuted the letter’s claims, instead claiming it was the rangers themselves who were involved in the crime.
“They sued me because they are angry that I stopped them benefitting from cutting the trees. Their names are on my list, with the evidence and witnesses involved with their act of cutting trees that I investigated since before they sued me,” he told Khmer Times.
Mr. Chheanpiseth said that early in July, he was told that the trees had been felled and had begun an investigation and he was now preparing to take action himself.
“I am preparing the complaint to sue those rangers who complained about me to the court soon, because they are really involved with the cutting trees. And I am thinking I might sue them for insulting and defaming me.”
He said he had already sent a clarification letter to his director and would wait to make a decision on what further action to take.

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