Vietnam officials fined for possessing wood from protected forest

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Three Quang Ngai Province officials, including a district Party head, and three others were fined VND72.8 million (US$3,500) for illegal trading and possession of timber from a protected tree species.

Dinh Ka De, secretary of the Son Tay District Party unit, and Nguyen Van Tien, an official from the district Military Command, were each fined VND6.5 million, and Doan Thanh Binh, a political assistant at the command, VND25 million, news website VnExpress reported Wednesday.

Pham Thi Thuy and Dinh Van Ram were fined VND6.5 million and VND3.3 million, respectively for logging the timber from a protected forest.

Tran Van Tam, who owns and drove the truck that transported the wood, was fined VND25 million.

On May 26 Tam was found carrying two pieces of timber to De's house after earlier dropping off four other pieces at the office of the district military command. Tien later took away two pieces, and the other two were meant for Binh.

Each of the logs, from old doi (talauma) trees, was 3.2 meters long and nearly one meter across, and measured nearly 3.5 cubic meters. They were to be used for making beds.

It is not known how much the officials paid for them.

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Pham Tan Hoang, chairman of Son Tay District, said the province Party unit has been informed and orders on further penalties for the three officials are awaited.

A source from the Quang Ngai Party unit said the officials would be severely punished since their actions had caused public outrage, though they had not used the timber for commercial purposes.

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