Source: Reuters - http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/BKK332111.htm
PHNOM PENH, July 27 (Reuters) - A Cambodian court sentenced 11 men, including army and police officers, to between five and seven years in jail on Thursday for taking bribes to allow a Vietnamese company to log in a remote national park.
Handing down a rare conviction relating to illegal logging, judge Ke Sakhan described the destruction by a Vietnamese company called Chong Dong of more than 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres) of Virachey National Park as a "great loss to Cambodia".
The hilly jungle region which was criss-crossed during the Vietnam War by the paths of the Ho Chi Minh Trail is home to a host of exotic species, including tigers, leopards and elephants.
Four of the defendants were jailed immediately, but the other seven remain at large, court officials said.
Although Cambodian forests are protected by law, illegal logging -- often conducted with the complicity of the military and police -- has seen overall cover drop to below 50 percent, compared to around 75 percent 30 years ago, green groups say.
The World Bank and international donors, whose annual aid package of around $600 million accounts for 60 percent of government revenue, have put pressure on Phnom Penh to preserve the forests. Their efforts have met with limited success.
Environmentalist Meas Sophal, who helped conduct a World Bank survey of the logged area in 2004, estimated the damage at more than $15 million.