By SUTTHIPONG SETTHARANGSI
AS authorities yesterday continued their hunt for illegal eaglewood loggers who allegedly killed forestry official Prasit Khummoo during a clash on October 14 at the Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary in Chaiyaphum's Khon San district, provincial Governor Chusa
Chusak revealed that Phu Khieo Provincial Court had issued arrest warrants for three Phetchabun-based suspects – Boonleng Saithongkhu, 48, who allegedly shot Prasit; Arthit Khlangsin, 31; and Song Khlangthong, 38. Since the fatal clash, the three suspects had not returned home, he said, adding officials had served the warrants at their Phetchabun homes and urged their relatives to get them to surrender.
The three men were believed to be in hiding in the Phu Khieo Forest, which overlaps Chaiyaphum and Phetchabun provinces, hence officials had now surrounded the forest, he said.
Chusak said the investigation had also identified others involved in the illegal eaglewood trade, including a former official based in Sa Kaew province who was allegedly the investor and gave telephone instructions to the three men to cut down trees in Phu Khieo Forest. Chusak affirmed that those involved would face criminal trial and if they were state officials they would also face a severe disciplinary probe.
An informed source said that the eaglewood logging was carried out by a transnational gang, which reaped immense benefits because eaglewood is an expensive material and is used in perfumes and cosmetics.
The black core of the eaglewood could fetch Bt100,000 per kilogram and a 300ml bottle of such a “perfume head” liquid was reportedly worth Bt300,000-Bt500,000.
The Phukhieo Forest, spread over a million rai, was also the source of the important Chi River in the Northeast, and reportedly has the country’s last largest source of scented wood trees. The forest is about to be proposed as a World Heritage Site soon, the source said.