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Official briefs court on ELCs over logging

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:

A senior Agriculture Ministry official on Tuesday appeared at Mondulkiri Provincial Court to clarify how companies, including a Vietnamese firm under investigation over illegal logging, are granted Economic Land Concessions.

Mam Vanda, provincial court spokesman, yesterday said that Chan Savuth, a ministry secretary of state, provided information about concessions granted to several companies, especially Pacific Grand Joint-Stock Company Limited, which obtained nearly 10,000 hectares of land.

He noted that Mr Savuth was summoned to appear in court on Thursday, but came in two days earlier due to a busy schedule.

Mr Vanda, however, did not provide details of the ministry official’s testimony.

He noted that the court prosecutor is in the process of collecting evidence related to an investigation into alleged illegal logging activities by Pacific Grand in the province.

“When we collect enough evidence about this company’s activities, we will send the case to the investigating judge,” Mr Vanda said.

Last month, court prosecutor Hieng Sopheak summoned Mr Savuth to appear before the court to clarify how an investment company like Pacific Grand was granted nearly 10,000 hectares of land in the province.

“A prosecutor will ask questions related to the distribution of 1,000 hectares of land in Region I, 2,000 hectares in Region II, 2,000 hectares in Region III, 2,000 hectares in Region IV and 2,741 hectares in Region V,” a court document said at the time.

Srey Vuthy, ministry spokesman, yesterday said that Mr Savuth was accompanied by his lawyer and a few ministry officials to clarify matters at the court.

“He just went to clarify government or ministry procedures for providing ELC to companies,” he said, noting that he was unable to provide more details.

Last month, the court also questioned Lor Reaksmey, a ministry undersecretary of state, in relation to investigations into allegations that Pacific Grand was carrying out logging in protected forests beyond its concession areas.

The company is owned by Vietnamese national Pham Quoc Long, who is due to be questioned by the court today. Pacific Grand received an ELC in Mondulkiri’s Koh Nhek district in 2011 for a rubber plantation.

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