The Tboung Khmum provincial forestry administration yesterday said that a police officer who attempted to thwart an illegal logging crackdown on Saturday will be sent to provincial court today.
Kim Chhunly, provincial forestry administration chief, yesterday said in a report that the suspect is an officer with the provincial police who wished to protect the drivers of trucks carrying illegal timber and who managed to flee the scene.
“On December 15 at around 11pm, the Tboung Khmum provincial forestry administration cooperated with military police officers and Tboung Khmum provincial police and stopped a Camry car carrying 46 pieces of kranhoung timbers, weighing 479 kilograms, and a minivan carrying 13 pieces, weighing 509 kilograms, in Ponhea Leu district’s Trapaing Phlong commune,” he said in the report to the provincial forestry administration cantonment director.
He said that during the operation, Captain Ya Sophal, a provincial police officer, showed up and began to intimidate the officers who stopped the vehicles and slightly injured a police officer, Chhen Sophat, who was recording the intimidation.
In the three-minute video, Cap Sophal is seen appearing at the crime scene and using intimidating words against the joint forces.
“If the cars are seized, there will be a problem… If you dare, keep taking the video and post it,” he said to Mr Sophat before using foul language and pushing aside the phone which was recording the incident.
Pen Rath, provincial police chief, yesterday said that the suspect was not trying to protect a crime, but was just drunk.
He said Cap Sophal is now being questioned at the provincial police headquarters and will be sent to the provincial court today.
“We are preparing the case to send to the court on a charge of obstructing public officers,” Mr Rath said. “Actually, he did not try to protect the crime at all, but was just drunk.”
“He came for a while and then left. He is a provincial police officer who is now on loan to a provincial deputy police chief as a driver,” he added.
Mr Rath also said that Cap Sophal did not injure anyone as reported in local media.
“He was just angry at the time and pushed the phone away with his hand and happened to hit the video shooter’s face,” he said. “There is no lawsuit because both of them are actually friends.”
Mr Rath added that the timber and vehicles seized in the crackdown are now with the provincial forestry administration and will be sent to the provincial court today.
Sun Sarath, deputy director of the provincial forestry department, said the court will also be looking to identify and possibly charge the owner of the illegal timber.
“So far, no representative or owner of the timber has shown up to resolve the case and the cars are being kept at the forestry cantonment office,” he said. “The case will be sent to the court to decide on what charge to be laid against the owner and the owner will be sought.”