No Investigation for Soldiers Who Stormed Forestry Office

There are no plans to investigate a group of soldiers who allegedly threatened to shoot Forestry Administration officials on Monday for refusing to release a military truck that had been seized for transporting wood believed to have been illegally logged, a military police official said on Tuesday.

According to the head of the Forestry Administration’s division in Anlong Veng district, Khorn Khem, 10 soldiers from Platoon 243 of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) stormed his office on Monday morning with guns drawn to demand that his officials release the platoon’s truck. He said the vehicle was impounded as evidence last week after the driver was caught hauling six cubic meters of ill-gotten timber through the district without authorization.

On Tuesday, district military police commander Nguon Thearith, who arrived at the scene of the standoff before the soldiers eventually left empty-handed, said there would be no investigation because no one was hurt and he did not see the soldiers pointing their guns at anyone.

“They misunderstood each other,” he said. “The Forestry Administration did not explain to the soldiers the rules of the Forestry Administration, and the soldiers had a permission letter from the Oddar Meanchey provincial government letting them take the truck, so they tried to take it.”

Mr. Thearith said the letter had been stamped by provincial governor Sar Thavy’s cabinet, but added that the forestry officials would have needed permission from the provincial court—which they did not have—to release the truck.

Mr. Thavy declined to comment on Tuesday, referring questions to the Forestry Administration.

Mr. Khem, the administration’s division chief, said only that he intended to continue pursuing the original illegal logging and transport case against the platoon.

“No one can take the truck that was illegally transporting the timber until the legal procedure is finished with the court,” he said, before hanging up on a reporter.

Officials in RCAF’s Division 2, which oversees Platoon 243, could not be reached for comment.

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