CAMBODIAN authorities plan to file an appeal on behalf of six Oddar Meanchey villagers convicted of illegal logging in Thailand, after a Thai lawyer informed them that the villagers’ trial had been conducted in accordance with Thai law, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said Wednesday.
The six villagers from O’Smach commune were arrested January 25 while collecting rattan along the contested border area. They were convicted last Friday and sentenced to 27 months in prison. Cambodian authorities were perturbed by this as they claimed they were given an inaccurate court date, preventing them from ensuring the group had legal representation.
The government sent a delegation to Surin province on Monday in the hope of enlisting a Thai lawyer to help with the filing of a complaint.
However, Koy Kuong, the foreign ministry spokesman, said Wednesday that a Thai lawyer had informed the delegation that the trial had been conducted legally, despite the confusion about the court date.
“We have found a Thai lawyer who understands Thai laws to help Cambodian people,” Koy Kuong said, adding that instead of filing a complaint, the government would file an appeal on the Cambodians’ behalf.
“The process of filing an appeal will be done soon,” he said.
Cambodia has long complained about what it sees as harsh treatment of its citizens by Thai soldiers along the border area near O’Smach. Local rights group Adhoc says that more than 20 Cambodian civilians, including a 6-year-old, have been shot and killed by Thai troops over the last two years.