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Army not to blame in shootings, Thais say

A man sits at a house in Oddar Meanchey after he was shot in the thigh by a Thai patrol
A man sits at a house in Oddar Meanchey last year after he was shot in the thigh by a Thai patrol while logging across the Thai-Cambodian border. Heng Chivoan

Army not to blame in shootings, Thais say

The Thai army yesterday publicly dismissed Cambodia’s censure following the shooting deaths of three citizens allegedly killed in the most recent spate of border fire attributed to Thai soldiers.

Army spokesman Colonel Winthai Suwaree suggested on Tuesday that Cambodia had jumped to conclusions and laid overly hasty blame for the deaths on the Thai army.

According to Winthai, the cause behind the February 5 deaths of the three Cambodian men along the border remains inconclusive.

But to Cambodia, the shooters who fired at the civilians are not a matter of debate.

“We have witnesses, including the fourth man who was injured,” said Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“It they want to know who it was, they should investigate,” he said, adding that Cambodia always urges Thailand with every shooting death to bring the perpetrator to justice.

Kuong said Cambodia had not yet received an official response from Thailand to the Foreign Ministry’s letter sent earlier this month.

The protest note, dated February 13, slammed Thailand’s repeated breach of international law through “barbarian acts” including the deaths of Ket Yet, 34, Keu Rina, 28, and a third man identified as Tha, killed by Thai soldiers' fire.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay, who is organising a lawsuit against Thailand for the shootings, called the junta’s refusal to act with accountability for the crimes “unacceptable”.

“Somebody is responsible for the killing of Cambodians . . . it is not just about the three recent deaths but the ongoing murder, including shooting a Cambodian woman in the head and burning people alive,” he said.

“Before, the Thai side argued that as a civilian government they had little oversight of the military, but now that the army controls everything, why isn’t it easy to find the killer?”

In September last year, Thailand reported that no loggers – who are often the Cambodians injured or killed in the shootings – were killed between January and September.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Interior, however, reported a dozen Cambodians were killed in a single day in March.

By local rights’ group Adhoc’s count, 124 Cambodians have been shot dead by Thai soldiers’ fire from 2008 to 2014.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY BANGKOK POST

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