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Thai troops at border accused of murder

THAI soldiers responsible for the death of a 16-year-old Cambodian logger who was reportedly burned alive last month could be found guilty of premeditated murder under Thai or Cambodian law and were likely in violation of international human rights law, the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights said in a report released Monday.

The report, which draws on a two-day CCHR investigation as well as a month’s worth of “factual and legal research”, calls on the government to demand “an immediate end to Thai mistreatment” of Cambodian loggers.

Though the parents of the victim, Yon Rith, said in an interview earlier this month that their son had been logging in Thai territory, the CCHR report challenges Thai claims to the area, noting that the Khmer Rouge controlled it until 1997, when Thai troops “were operating 10 to 20 kilometres away”.

“In more recent years, however, Thai military activity has become more pervasive in the area and, in turn, has gradually led to Thailand’s assertion of a deeper territorial claim,” the report states.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Monday that the government considered the area to be “along the border” rather than belonging to either country.

He said the government had received from the Thais a diplomatic note that denied any Thai military involvement but expressed a willingness to cooperate with Cambodian authorities in assessing evidence.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry has instructed “all relevant ministries” to collect evidence pertaining to the incident, which will then be presented to Thailand, Koy Kuong said.

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