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In Wake of Banned Report, Illegal Loggers Saw On

Rampant illegal logging continued this week, in Kampong Thom province at least, regardless of a blistering report issued by the forest monitor Global Witness that has been banned in the country.

Witnesses say timber from Kampong Thom forests continue to be moved out of the countryside, at night, by cart, bicycle and truck. Many people moving the logs belong to the military.

Global Witness, which was fired as the country's official monitor in 2003, issued a report earlier this month that linked the country's illegal logging to the prime minister and his family, as well as the Minister of Agriculture and the director of the Forestry Department. Global Witness blamed a "kleptocratic elite" and an indifferent group of donor countries for the depletion of Cambodia's forest cover.

Those named in the report denied the charges, and hard copies of the report were subsequently banned, while serialization of the report in newspapers was also forbidden.

This week criminal logging continued unabated in some of the country's richest—dwindling—forests.

Sam Rainsy Party activist Duong Chanty told VOA Khmer he had witnessed numerous carts of felled logs in transport.

"During the past three days, I saw 25 to 26 carts at 8 [pm], and all of the people [were from] the armed forces, and not civilians," he said. "When the [everyday] people carry logs to build their houses, they are arrested and have to pay fines."