The bereaved families of three Cambodians shot dead in Thailand while illegally logging complained yesterday that Thai authorities practically forced them to agree to have their deceased relatives cremated before their ashes were returned to them.
Try Bol, 39, the brother of 37-year-old Try Sambo, who was reportedly shot dead eight days ago after crossing the Thai border from Oddar Meanchey province, said his sister-in-law had little choice but to thumbprint a document agreeing to the cremation.
“The families are poor. They are not able to afford the transportation and coffin price. The corpses are also rotten,” he said, adding they would pick up Try Sambo’s ashes on Thursday.
His sister-in-law simply could not afford to pay about US$128 for transportation of the body and coffin, as well as more than double that for embalming chemicals, Try Bol said.
He claimed Thai authorities had first apprehended his brother, then taken him elsewhere to shoot him, because there was no blood at the scene where Try Sambo was supposedly shot. He called for an investigation into the deaths.
Sam Hoeurn, 41, the wife of 51-year-old Sam Siet, said Thai authorities refused to directly show her her husband’s body when she went to retrieve it on Monday and pushed her to thumbprint the cremation consent form.
“My husband was shot dead... Thai police claimed that they did not know who shot my husband, and they forced me to give a thumb print so that they could cremate the corpse in Thailand,” she said.
A source close to Thai Defence Ministry spokesman Col Thanatip Sawangsaeng said yesterday that Thai rangers had shot two Cambodians illegally logging in Ubon Ratchathani province in the past two weeks, but only after they fired first.
“A group of illegal loggers came crossing into Thailand, and they were challenged by the Thai border rangers [who] then returned fire, and one Kampuchean was killed and his body was handed over to the Kampuchean forces,” he said.
Another Cambodian was killed in a separate incident, he said, adding that Thailand’s policy was only to shoot if confronted with gunfire.
Major Hean Sok, military commander of Samroang district in Oddor Meanchey province, denied Cambodian loggers were carrying weapons.
“Our soldiers patrol along the border and sometimes have met with loggers. We have not seen them carrying any weapons,” he said.