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Vietnamese land-grabbers held

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Vietnamese nationals are detained after allegedly illegally crossing the border into Cambodia and clearing forest land in Virak Chey National Park in Ratanakkiri province. Photo supplied

Vietnamese land-grabbers held

Following a provincial court order, Ratanakkiri Military Police on April 16 arrested 12 Vietnamese nationals accused of crossing the border into Cambodia and illegally clearing forest land.

The accused are now being detained at Phnom Svay prison in the province.

Ratanakkiri military police commander Thav Yen told The Post on Sunday that last Tuesday his team carried out a raid to prevent illegal forestry crime in Virak Chey National Park.

He said police arrested 12 Vietnamese nationals and confiscated evidence, including six items of machinery, after they had illegally cleared forest land in the O’Tayak area of Taveng district’s Taveng Loeu commune.

Yen said that after their arrest they were sent to immigration police to follow legal procedures. The immigration police then prepared its case and sent them to provincial court.

“The 12 Vietnamese nationals crossed over the Cambodian border with the help of Sek Virak, a representative of a company, and a Vietnamese man named Vo Ngu Yevsa,” he said.

According to a Taveng district Military Police report, the Vietnamese nationals crossed illegally into Cambodia through the forest near Border Post Number 14 located in the area of Border Protection Office Number 505, which is adjacent to Vietnamese Border Post Number 711 in Vietnam’s Kon Tum province.

Ratanakkiri provincial court prosecutor Chea Pich told The Post on Sunday that the case had already reached the court and the investigating judge had looked into it.

After completing questioning of the suspects on Sunday morning, Investigating Judge Leng Vannarith charged the 12 Vietnamese nationals with “crossing the border without legal permission” according to Article 29 of the Immigration Law and “importing machinery for illegal forest clearing and taking forest land as personal property” according to Articles 56, 58 and 62 of the Law on Natural Protected Areas.

He ordered police to detain them temporarily at provincial prison to await a court hearing and other legal procedures.

Phnom Svay prison chief Ouk Kemchun told The Post the 12 suspects arrived at the prison at 10:30am on Sunday morning.

“We received and detained the 12 Vietnamese suspects on Sunday morning, as ordered by Investigating Judge Leng Vannarith,” he said.

Separately on Friday, Mondulkiri provincial authorities – in cooperation with the Forestry Administration and the Koh Nhek district police Environment Department – detained three luxury timber traders.

The three men – two Vietnamese and one Cambodian – were arrested while allegedly attempting to purchase timber illegally in Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary.

The three suspects are under interrogation at Mondulkiri police headquarters. More than 600 logs were confiscated and are under the supervision of the provincial Environmental Department.

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