Police in the southern province of Binh Phuoc said Tuesday they had arrested five forest management officers involved in cutting down protected forest.
Among the five who face charges for "irresponsibility, causing serious consequences," is Nguyen Van Phong, director of Loc Ninh Forest Management Board.
Two others Vo Tan Cang and Trieu Van Cu are officers on the board.
The remaining two are Lam Van Thanh, chief of Loc Ninh District Forest Management Division, and Chau Van Bay, an officer who works for the division.
According to police, in May 2010, the provincial government allowed the Loc Ninh Forest Management Board and Phuong Thao Co-operative to establish a joint venture to plant rubber trees on two sections of the forest, covering 150 hectares of land.
The provincial government noted that 52 of the 150 hectares had to be strictly protected.
Ly Trung Hau, chief of the Phuong Thao Co-operative, however, asked the Loc Ninh Forest Management Board to plant rubber trees on the 52 hectares of forest land.
The board accepted the request and asked Loc Ninh Forest Management Division for approval of the decision.
The division approved the request and sought permission from the Loc Ninh District People's Committee.
Truong Van Phuc, then chairman of the committee, approved the proposal.
The move was eventually followed through on and the 52-ha of forest was cleared to plant rubber.
Hau was also arrested. Local authorities are investigating Phuc's responsibility in the deforestation case.
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