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Loggers held at Vietnam border

POLICE in Ratanakkiri province arrested two Vietnamese men with the help of an ethnic Jarai leader on Saturday, after the pair were reportedly found illegally felling trees in Andong Meas district.

Sov Hmeus, head of the ethnic Jarai community in Kaet village, in Andong Meas district’s Nhang commune, said he was patrolling an area near the border with local police when the group came across six Vietnamese men who were cutting down trees with chainsaws.

Four of the men escaped on foot, but two were caught and confessed to each paying a US$154 bribe to Nin Na, chief of police at the Fhasav border checkpoint, in exchange for permission to cut down trees in Ratanakkiri.

“[Nin Na] has warned me not to interfere in these cases when Vietnamese people cut down trees in Cambodia,” said Sov Hmeus. “But I must protect the community forest and must not allow anybody to conspire with Vietnamese people to cut down trees illegally.”

Sov Hmeus said he intended to file a complaint against Nin Na today “for intimidation and for allowing Vietnamese people to cross the border to cut trees in Cambodia illegally”.

Nin Na could not be reached for comment.

But Uy Sarath, deputy commander of the military border battalion stationed at Ou Sathai, which controls the Fhasav border checkpoint, rejected accusations that checkpoint officials had taken bribes. “I will investigate the case, and if I find that someone has [taken bribes], I will take legal action,” he said.



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