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Thai envoy denies killings on border

Thai envoy denies killings on border

Thailand has denied its forces shot dead 12 Cambodian loggers who crossed the border illegally on March 5, Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday.

During a meeting with Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative Long Visalo, Thai ambassador Touchayoot Pakdi said Thai soldiers had made four arrests that day but did not shoot anyone, Kuong said.

Royal Cambodian Armed Forces officers last week alleged that 12 loggers had been shot dead on March 5 and three more a week later.

“[He] confirmed that on March 5, their soldiers patrolling along the border found 15 Cambodians who had illegally crossed into the space. They arrested four but 11 ran back across the border,” Kuong said. “The four people were sent back to Cambodia, but he did not remember on what date.”

The ambassador, Kuong continued, said authorities knew nothing about the other three loggers allegedly shot dead.

Kuong said the government “could not draw conclusions” based on Thailand’s response, while Pakdi could not be reached for comment.

Preap Thoeurth, an RCAF intelligence officer at the border in Preah Vihear, yesterday stood by his claim last week that 15 had been killed in shootings on March 5 and 12. This claim was backed up at the time by another RCAF official.

On Sunday, Sok Hai, a district governor in Preah Vihear province, said the Thai military had confirmed it had killed three people last Wednesday and burned their bodies.

In an open letter to Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra sent yesterday, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights called on Thailand to end “continued arbitrary executions of Cambodian civilians” – a figure that the Ministry of Interior says reached at least 69 last year.

“The shooting of Cambodian civilians resulting in death or serious bodily harm constitutes an unlawful act and a grave violation of [Thailand’s] human rights obligations,” reads the letter, signed by executive director Chak Sopheap.

It was the third letter of its kind to Yingluck, Sopheap said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHEANG SOKHA

In the original version of this article, Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong was quoted as saying the Thai government claimed 11 Cambodian loggers were arrested and four fled the scene. He actually said four were arrested and 11 fled.

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