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Authorities await body of man killed by Thai soldier

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Authorities await body of man killed by Thai soldier

Authorities are waiting for the repatriation of the body of a Cambodian man who was shot by a Thai soldier on Wednesday as he attempted to cross into the country illegally from Pursat province.

The Thai soldier shot two Cambodian nationals for crossing into Thailand to allegedly log endangered Siamese rosewood trees.

Mao Mom, 26, was killed, while his accomplice An Vet, 24, was severely injured. The two were from Samrong commune in the province.

Speaking to The Post, Pursat provincial governor Mao Thonin said he had ordered the Veal Veng district governor and officials stationed at the border checkpoint to formally request their Thai counterparts return Mom’s body to his family.

“Instructions have been issued, now we are waiting for the body’s repatriation,” Thonin said.

As of Sunday, Thai authorities had not responded to the repatriation request, Veal Veng district governor Heng Sopheana told The Post.

“The decision to return the body lies with them [the Thai authorities]. We have been asking up to five times every day,” he said.

According to Sopheana, the other man, An Vet, is receiving medical treatment in Thailand.

Describing Mom’s family and living situation, his uncle Nat Sokhom said Mom left behind his 57-year-old mother, a sister and a nephew. His father and four siblings passed away.

“His mother lives in a small thatched-roof shack with her grandson, while her only daughter is living with her husband.

“Truthfully, she [the mother] is very poor. She works as a labourer at a cassava plantation, earning between 10,000 to 12,000 riel ($2.50-$3) per day,” Sokhom said.

Mom’s sister Mao Nat told The Post that he left the house seven years ago. She recounted that one day before Khmer New Year, Mom came home for a visit, during which some villagers invited him to go along with them to log trees to sell to traders.

“[Mom] said he was going to follow the others to find timber because he admitted that he did not have knowledge of the process. Our daily life is very difficult . . . we don’t have enough to eat,” Nat said.

Spokespersons for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ket Sophann, and the Ministry of Interior, Khieu Sopheak, could not be reached for comment.

Soeung Sen Karuna, spokesman for human rights group Adhoc, said that instances of Thai authorities shooting Cambodian nationals have happened quite often.

“This is worrisome. Cambodian people must stop engaging themselves in forestry crimes and understand about the consequences,” he said.

A previous Adhoc report revealed that each year an average of 34 Cambodians are shot and killed while attempting to cross into Thailand illegally.

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