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Villagers detain ‘illegal loggers’

Ethnic Phnong villagers from Mondulkiri’s Pech Chreada district turned over to authorities a group of 15 men who were allegedly caught logging luxury wood in their community forest on Saturday, locals and provincial authorities said yesterday.

More than 20 men were seen illegally logging about 10 kilometers from the Vietnamese border by a group of 66 patrolling villagers from Bousraa commune, 28-year-old Khuth Chanra, a commune deputy chief, said.

“Our forest would have disappeared a long time ago if we did not do our own patrols,” Chanra added.

Villagers managed to capture 15 of the men, alleged to be Vietnamese, along with four tractors, seven chainsaws, nine motorbikes and a rifle, according to Sok Ratha, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc. If the 15 men are found guilty, they could face between five and 10 years in prison under the 2002 forestry law, he added.

The accused are slated to appear before the provincial court today, according to Sou Sovann, a provincial deputy police chief.

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