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Loggers repatriated: Cambodians home after year in jail

On Sunday, three Cambodians were repatriated from Thailand, where they were imprisoned for more than a year after they were allegedly caught illegally logging along the border, according to officials.

The trio was arrested on November 7, 2013, and charged with illegally taking timber across the border from Oddar Meanchey’s Trapaing Prasat district, said Touch Ra, chief of the Cambodian-Thai Border Relations Office at Choam-Sangam checkpoint.

“After questioning and educating them, we sent them back yesterday evening to their homeland in Odong district, Kampong Speu province,” Ra said.

Ra was unable to provide figures for the number of loggers repatriated to Cambodia over his checkpoint so far this year, but said few people continue to cross in search of timber.

“I can tell you that for every 100 people who cross, there are only 4 to 5 per cent who are still going for logging, since there is not much timber left in that area,” he said.

In December, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha acknowledged that the border area is “plagued by illegal logging”, which leads to skirmishes between Thai soldiers and the loggers.

A provincial report obtained in December estimated that 45 loggers were arrested in Oddar Meanchey in 2014.

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