Three Cambodian villagers, including a village chief from Banteay Meanchey’s O’Chrou district, were arrested on Friday by Thai police on suspicion of illegal logging, officials said yesterday.
Man Thhey, deputy O’Chrou district police chief, told the Post that a group of 23 villagers from O’Beichoan commune had crossed the border undocumented, and while 18 escaped Thai authorities, three were arrested and are being held in Thailand’s Sala Krao province. Among them was Prev Chan village chief Phong Kim Leang. Two remain unaccounted for.
“I think for the two missing [villagers]; they probably have been killed or died, because they should have been home by now,” Thhey said.
O’Beichoan commune police officer Chen Mab, who questioned the 18, said they had entered a protected forest in Thailand’s Nakhon Ratchasima province.
“The Thai police fired shots into the air, and [the Cambodians] just tried to run as fast as they could,” Mab said.
Deputy Prev Chan village chief Pov Beurn said that although chief Leang did not “lead” the group he was going as a “timber hauler”, adding that Leang was quite poor and in debt.