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Six detained over forest clearing in Mondulkiri

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Authorities seize the illegally logged trees. Nokorwat News

Mondulkiri provincial court sent six people in pre-trial detention on Friday and Saturday on separate charges of deforestation and encroachment on natural protected areas, the provincial department of environment revealed.

Keo Sopheak, director of the environmental department, said yesterday following an investigation, rangers in Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary on Friday arrested three people who allegedly cleared forest land in the sanctuary for private ownership.

The accused were identified as Ham Tong, 25; Ang Eang, 26 and Tim Thea, 44. Rangers also seized a two-wheel tractor and three herbicide sprayers during the arrest. The evidence is being temporarily kept at Nam Ram Environmental Conservation headquarters.

“The three men were sent to pre-trial detention on Saturday by the provincial court’s investigating judge in accordance with Articles 56 and 62 of the Protected Areas Law,” he said.

Mr Sopheak said the court on Friday also detained three others accused of deforestation in the ecological restoration area of Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary under Articles 56 and 60 of the Protected Areas Law.

He identified the three men as Sar Rith, 38; Duong Khy, 35 and Lay Ratha, 58. Three chainsaws, one two-wheel tractor and five logs were confiscated at the scene.

“They were arrested by the Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary rangers as they were using chainsaws to cut five trees of luxury wood at Ou Pong Ror area located at Pech Chreada district in Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary,” said Mr Sopheak.

A report from the Ministry of Environment in January stated provincial environment departments and forest rangers in protected areas last year cracked down on more than 2,000 offences and seized nearly 10,000 cubic metres of plywood, 800 cubic metres of timber, 695 cubic metres of luxury wood and 4,047 wildlife traps. The authorities also seized 314 vehicles, about 500 chainsaws and 153 handsaws. Nearly 500 of the people involved were made to sign social contracts while some others were educated.

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