Quid pro quo
Lao authorities last week sent home 12 Cambodian men arrested in December for illegal logging after their families coughed up US$500 each for their return.
On Monday, Cambodian auth-orities said they would repatriate a Lao man, who was arrested by Cambodian authorities for crossing the border to illegally log luxury timber, but only if they received a similar payment of between US$400 and $500.
Stung Treng provincial deputy police chief Ek Sivandon said yesterday he would detain the suspect at his police station until Lao officials agreed to pay.
“As part of a Cambodia-Lao agreement, the exchange of people caught illegally crossing the border does not involve money, but [last week] Lao officials demanded US$400 to $500 for returning our villagers, so we have to do the same,” Ek Sivandon said.
Cambodia-Lao border police officer Svay Nhorn told the Post yesterday tha police and soldiers had worked together to arrest 24-year-old Laotian national Mith Phoun. Border police confiscated a mini-tractor, electric saws, handsaws and pieces of timber as evidence of the logging.
“There were two Laotian men, but one of them ran away,’’ Svay Nhorn said.
“We did not use a gun to threaten them, but we surrounded him and arrested him in accordance with the law.”
Svay Nhorn said nine of the Cambodians arrested in Laos in December for illegal logging were repatriated last Wednesday and three more on Monday, after their families paid Lao authorities.
Hou Sam Ol, provincial monitor for the rights group Adhoc, said yesterday the exchange of prisoners between Laos and Cambodia compared favourably with similar situations on the Thai border in which Thai soldiers had shot Cambodians.