Subject: ABC: East Timor police question five over sandalwood smuggling

ABC News Online

East Timor police question five over sandalwood smuggling

East Timorese police are questioning five people detained in connection with a smuggling racket involving highly-prized sandalwood.

UN police spokesman Fernando Souto says the five men, all drivers, were apprehended last week in Dili after seven lorries loaded with sandalwood were intercepted after leaving eastern Baucau.

He said the timber had been confiscated and handed over to the Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture as investigators tried to assess the value of the illicit cargo believed to be heading for sale in Indonesian West Timor.

Mr Souto says more sandalwood is believed to be stockpiled in Baucau.

It was the lure of vast sandalwood forests that first attracted the Portuguese to Timor in the 16th century but only a few stands now remain and logging of the species is strictly forbidden.

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