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Dozens to be tried in Thailand for logging

A group of 33 Cambodian loggers has been charged and put under pretrial detention in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province after they illegally crossed the border and logged luxury timber, the Post has learned.

The 33 loggers, all men aged between 17 and 42, were arrested when Thai authorities caught them cutting Thai rosewood in a protected forest on August 27. After arresting the loggers, Thai police questioned them and sent them to prison. They were charged by the court late last week, according to Neth Saray, Cambodian consular-general in Sa Kaeo.

“Some evidence was found and seized, such as chainsaws, timber and axes,” Saray said.

The consulate has provided a defence lawyer to the men, who come from Battambang, Siem Reap, Kampot, Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meanchey provinces.

In separate cases, seven Cambodians arrested for illegal logging completed their jail time last month and were repatriated to Cambodia, according to Touch Ra, deputy director of the Choam Ksan Cambodia-Thailand border checkpoint in Oddar Meanchey province.

Ra added that another two Cambodians had been arrested in Thailand in the same month as the 33: one for stealing a motorbike and another for logging,

“They have been arrested and jailed temporarily for further investigation before a hearing,” Ra said.

The Bangkok Post reported an additional 45 Cambodians were caught illegally logging rosewood in Sa Kaeo on August 10. The suspects told Thai police that they had been sent to the protected forest by a Cambodian military official.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not confirm the case yesterday.

Chin Piseth, deputy director of the Cambodia-Thai Border Relations Office, said he did not have a total figure for Cambodians arrested or shot in Thailand in 2014, as Thailand had not been providing the data.

He added that he suspected there was less timber in Thailand now, so Cambodian loggers cross less frequently.

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