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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Fatal shooting’ did not happen, Thailand says

‘Fatal shooting’ did not happen, Thailand says

While Cambodian officials say the Thais have not responded to a request for an inquiry into the shooting death of a man they say illegally crossed the border, Thailand is denying the incident even occurred.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs last month called for an investigation into the shooting, which allegedly took place on March 18. In the ministry’s telling, Thai authorities opened fire on nine Cambodians who ventured across the border to log. One of them, Van Vouch, 38, was killed.

The ministry summoned the Thai ambassador to Cambodia, Touchayoot Pakdi, to collect a diplomatic note detailing its calls for an investigation.

In an email to the Post on Tuesday, Kobboon Sangmanee, first secretary at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of Information, said it was confirmed that there were “no casualties of Cambodian nationals as alleged”.

“The Department of Border Affairs has already verified the alleged incident with the Thai-Cambodian Coordination Office, and [it] has been confirmed that no Thai officials had encountered any illegal logging activities on the said date, time, and place.

“Hence, there are no casualties of Cambodian nationals from the said incident unless they smuggled into Thai territory,” he said, explaining that if illegal logging did occur that day it had gone “unnoticed” by the Thai government.

The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday that it had heard nothing of Thailand’s denials.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Cambodia had not yet received an answer to the diplomatic note, adding that Cambodia is still seeking a thorough investigation into the shooting and punishment for the person responsible.

Touchayoot, the Thai ambassador, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The alleged fatal shooting of Vouch was one of four incidents reported last month in which Cambodians were allegedly shot at in Thai territory. In two cases, one on March 5 and one on March 12, Cambodian military officials claimed Thai soldiers killed a total of 15 illegal loggers. Thai authorities denied the claims.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHEANG SOKHA

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