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Officer sentenced for timber offences

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
A bridge that was damaged by an overloaded truck owned by the military officer. Supplied

A military officer and timber trader was sentenced in absentia yesterday to a year’s jail for keeping stocks of luxury wood and transporting it without authorisation.

Major Choeun Theng, 37, of the 3rd Military Region based in Kampong Speu province, was charged along with his businesswoman wife, Kou Sokhoeun, 34.

Ms Sokhoeun was also sentenced to a year in jail but the term was suspended.

Both were charged with transporting and buying luxury timber without authorisation.

The offences took place in Kampong Speu province in January.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge Ky Rithy said Maj Theng was arrested on May 5 after military police and the National Committee for Forest Crime Prevention raided his Chbar Mon city warehouses in January.

After the raid, the National Committee for Forest Crime Prevention seized many hundreds of tonnes of luxury timbers, which were hidden inside.

Ms Sokhoeun was arrested at the raid but freed on bail.

The court also fined them a total of nearly 100 million riel ($25,000).

Major Choeun Theng after his arrest. Supplied

According to a report from the National Committee for Forest Crime Prevention, Maj Theng was a well known luxury timber trader who often transported timber from Cambodia to sell in Vietnam.

In a separate case in June last year, he was convicted by Kampot Provincial Court for his role in damaging a public bridge in Chhouk district.

The truck, which was heavily laden with luxury timber, caused extensive damage to the bridge in Chey Sena village.

The driver fled but provincial military police traced the owner, Maj Theng, and arrested him on June 18, 2016.

Maj Theng was freed by the Kampot court’s investigative judge in July last year after spending about a month in prison and paying 220 million riel ($55,000) for the bridge reconstruction, as well as a fine of 130 million riel (about $32,500).

After being freed from prison, Maj Theng resumed his military work and timber businesses in Kampong Speu province.

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