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Timber tycoon Kong Kroeng to be questioned

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
General Sao Sokha, head of NCFCP and commander of the National Military Police. CEN

The National Committee for Forest Crime Prevention has summoned a well-known timber tycoon to appear at Kratie provincial military police headquarters to be questioned over suspected illegal logging.

According to a letter issued on Thursday and obtained yesterday, Lieutenant General Hong Vinol, head of the NCFCP working group, summoned timber trader Kong Kroeng to appear on August 15.

Mr Kroeng, owner of Mat Naseat timber-processing facility in the province’s Snuol district, has been accused of conducting large-scale illegal logging in the province.

Local media have also reported that he was the culprit behind the smuggling of forestry products to Vietnam through Kratie.

In the letter, Lt Gen Vinol said Mr Kroeng is also under investigation over illegal logging in Mondulkiri.

“[We are] conducting a comprehensive and just investigation,” he said.

Brigadier General Suos Chamroeun, deputy commander of the Kratie provincial military police, declined to comment yesterday.

Mr Kroeng could not be reached for comment.

General Sao Sokha, head of NCFCP, on Monday led a team to check on Economic Land Concession companies in the provinces of Tboung Khmum, Kratie, Stung Treng, Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri.

Gen Sokha inspected at least nine warehouses belonging to Mr Kroeng, but no arrests were made.

The inspection was part of a nationwide probe on companies suspected of being linked to the operations of timber tycoon Soeng Sam Ol, who was recently arrested over illegal logging allegations.

Mr Sam Ol was arrested on July 9 in Mondulkiri province and charged with illegal logging on July 12.

Since Mr Sam Ol was arrested, at least 20 other people have been summoned to be questioned, including provincial forestry administration officials.

They are expected to appear at the Mondulkiri provincial military police headquarters between Friday and August 31.

So far, a total of 15 people have been charged in connection to Mr Sam Ol.

NCFCP spokesman Brigadier General Eng Hy said Gen Sokha was in Mondulkiri yesterday to lead another inspection.

Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, yesterday noted that the loss of forest cover in recent years remains a concern.

“The loss of trees is reflective of ineffective law enforcement,” Mr Phea said. “[Efficient law enforcement] is needed to prevent illegal logging.”

“If we continue to lose trees, the CPP government is the one who was responsible for it,” he added. “They cannot blame others, they must save their reputation.”

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