Editorial | Articles about Cambodia | Khmer

Friday, June 20, 2008

US Army trucks recently donated to the Cambodian government are being used to transport illegal logs

Recently donated US Army trucks (Photo: AP)
18 June 2008
By Sophorn (Radio Free Asia)
Translated from Khmer by Heng Soy (KI-Media)
Click here to read the original article in Khmer

A witness, who is a local journalist, indicated that US Army trucks recently donated to the Cambodian government are being used to transport illegal logs, however, US embassy officials denied that this story is not true.

A local journalist claimed that soldiers from army unit Ngo-70 confiscated his camera while he was taking pictures of police arresting 2 trucks carrying wood logs. The trucks are suspected to be donations by the US.

The local journalist, who asked to remain anonymous for fear for his personal safety, indicated on 15 June, he saw soldiers and police officers stopping 3 trucks, he then started taking pictures of these vehicles when 3 soldiers from the army unit Ngo-70 came to take his camera and confiscated the film in the camera.

He added that about 30 minutes later, following an intervention from their superior, the soldiers then returned the camera back to him

According to an eyewitness, who happens to be a local journalist also, said that at about 2:00 PM on Sunday, at the Snab Ta Oan village, Koki commune, Kien Svay district, Kandal province, along National Road No. 1, a group of police officers stopped 2 trucks loaded with wood logs, during this operation, national military police force was also present.

He added that, later on the military police and soldiers group send 20-cubic-meter of precious wood to be stored at the house of General Mao Sophan, the commander of army unit Ngo-70, located in Spov Kanleng village, Dey Ith commune, Kien Svay district, Kandal province, then the trucks took off.

RFA attempted to obtain clarification from the Kien Svay district police chief since 17 June, but he told RFA to wait until 18 June instead, However, on 18 June, RFA called him and his deputy back many times, but no one picked up their phones.

Heng Thieb, the Kien Svay district governor, indicated that he knew there was a wood inspection that took place, but that this is the duty of the forestry department, and he said for RFA to ask the forestry department instead.

Heng Thieb said: “I only know that they belong to the joint force of the forestry department.”

Sophorn (RFA): So was there any confiscation as reported or not, Mr. Deputy-governor?

Heng Thieb: There was a wood inspection. The department of forestry is working on it.

On Wednesday, RFA tried to call Y Sophy, the director of the Kien Svay forestry department, for clarification, but no one picked up the phone.

Jeff Daigle, the public relation officer of the US embassy in Cambodia, said that he heard about this story since Monday. He sent an expert to check and the expert noted that the 31 trucks provided by the US Army have not been put to use yet, he said that the report is only a rumor.

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