THE government is to launch an appeal on behalf of 16 Cambodians convicted of illegal logging by a Thai court and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, officials confirmed on Wednesday.
Cambodian lawyers are expected to file the appeal on October 22, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong. The move will come at the end of a month’s appeal period following the loggers’ convictions in Thailand’s Ubon Rachathani provincial court on September 23.
It will give the lawyers defending the loggers time to collect more evidence before officially submitting their appeal before the deadline, Koy Kuong said.
“We are finding new evidence to convince the court,” he said. “If we submitted the same [evidence], they will uphold the decision.”
Fifteen of the loggers were sentenced to nine years and three months in prison, and one logger received a sentence of six years and two months.
The group, villagers from Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey, were found guilty of illegally entering Thai territory and destruction of forestry along the disputed Cambodia-Thailand border area.
Preah Vihear deputy governor Sar Thavy, who is in charge of dealing with the case, said Cambodia is intervening because the loggers had no intention of cutting down trees and had no idea they were on Thai soil.
“We will not accept the verdict,” Sar Thavy said last week.
Thai embassy officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
In late August, a Thai national who illegally entered Cambodian territory was sentenced to three months jail by Banteay Meanchey provincial court.