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Vietnamese loggers face charges, jail

A group of 15 Vietnamese nationals detained by ethnic villagers last week were charged yesterday with illegally crossing the border and logging luxury wood from Phnong community forest in Mondulkiri.

The Pech Chreada district villagers allege that they spotted more than 20 men logging in the community forest about 10 kilometres from the border. The 15 men were turned over to authorities on Saturday.

“They were questioned one by one and finally were charged in connection with [illegally] logging and crossing the border,” said Sou Sovichea, provincial deputy prosecutor.

Chhit Sophal, director of the provincial environmental department, said that the confiscated evidence – including seven chainsaws, four tractors, timber, a rifle and nine motorbikes – has been impounded at his office.

Provincial police chief Nhem Vanthy said the loggers’ confessions hinted at more suspects.

“We will continue investigating the case of their accomplices,” Vanthy said.

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