Kampong Speu provincial police yesterday arrested three Cambodians and two Vietnamese nationals who allegedly quarried for marble in a protected area in Oral district.
Brigadier General Nhem Sao, provincial deputy police chief, said the five were arrested on suspicion that they illegally quarried for the natural resource in Trapaing Chor commune’s Kbal Damrei village.
“They operated without a licence and were quarrying for marble in a protected area,” he noted.
Brig Gen Sao said the suspects used techniques involving water pumps and pegs to split the marble in the area between October 18 and November 20.
He noted that officials from the Anti-Corruption Unit recently stumbled upon their activities and alerted provincial police, but the suspects had removed their equipment and kept them at the house of a villager Chhorn Thul, about one kilometre away, before a raid was launched.
Brig Gen Sao said after hiding the equipment, four of the suspects fled to Phnom Penh and the other man, identified as Cambodian Tin Sith, stayed behind in the house.
He noted that police raided the house yesterday morning, arrested Sith and ordered him to contact the other four and ask them to return to the house.
Brig Gen Sao said police arrested the other suspects, who he did not name, when they arrived.
“Yesterday two Cambodian men and two Vietnamese nationals went to retrieve their equipment from Mr Thul’s house and they were arrested,” he noted. “Both Cambodians were crane drivers while the Vietnamese were experts at quarrying.”
“All five suspects are still being questioned at the provincial police headquarters,” Brig Gen Sao added.
Provincial governor Vey Samnang yesterday said that provincial authorities had received information that illegal quarrying for marble was being done on protected land and asked provincial police to investigate.
“If they are found to have committed wrongdoing they will face the law,” he said. “This is first time such a case has happened in the province.”
Binh Chivtong, provincial mines and energy department director, declined to comment yesterday.