Farmer nabbed at Thai bor­der

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Khouth Sophak Chakrya

ONE of six Cam­bo­dian vil­lagers was ar­rested by Thai sol­diers on Sun­day night for al­legedly cross­ing the bor­der to log rose­wood in Thai­land. Pov Pheng, deputy head of Cam­bo­dian-Thai bor­der li­ai­son of­fice at the In­ter­na­tiona l O’smach Bor­der Check­point, iden­ti­fied t he v il­lager as Roeun Sela, 35, a farmer from Od­dar Meanchey prov in­cia l cit y’s O’smach com­mune.

“Our au­thor­i­ties tried to ne­go­ti­ate and re­quest for his re­lease, but Thai­land re­jected, claim­ing he was caught red-handed and must be sent to court for trial,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port from Thai po­lice, Sela ad­mit­ted that he and five other vil­lagers sneaked into Thai­land on Thurs­day night with the in­ten­tion of log­ging rose­wood to sell to a prom­i­nent trader known as Sak.

On Sun­day evening, t he v i l lagers were pulling t heir carts loaded with tim­ber to the bor­der near the O’smach in­ter­na­tiona l check­point when they en­coun­tered Thai sol­diers who were pa­trolling t he bor­der. Sela was ar­rested while the other five man­aged to es­cape.

“In the re­port, Thai au­thor­i­ties list ev­i­dence in­clud­ing a gi­ant saw, two carts fully loaded with tim­ber and rose­wood. The sus­pect and ev­i­dence have been sent to Surin pro­vin­cial court for fur­ther ac­tions,” he said.

Vil­lagers in the bor­der area al­leged that some Cam­bo­di­ans il­le­gally crossed the bor­der for rose­wood in Thai­land in col­lu­sion with cor­rupt au­thor­i­ties, in­clud­ing bor­der po­lice unit 702 and bor­der mil­i­tary unit 402 as well as im­mi­gra­tion po­lice of­fi­cers at the O’smach in­ter­na­tional bor­der check­point.

Sela’s mother-in-law Se Pov said Mon­day that Sela had never logged rose­wood un­til last week, when a few vil­lagers lured him into cross­ing the bor­der with the help of one mil­i­tary of­fi­cer known as Dos.

“I do not know which unit Dos is from, but they told me that in the area there are two bor­der units: mil­i­tary bor­der unit 402 and bor­der po­lice unit 702,” Pov said.

Mil­i­tary bor­der unit 402 com­man­der Pok Sophal said on Mon­day that none of his of­fi­cers had col­luded with log­gers and that the re­cent case did not hap­pen in the area un­der his unit’s juris­dic­tion.

“We will in­ves­ti­gate and if we find any of­fi­cer as­sist­ing il­le­gal log­gers in cross­ing the bor­der to log rose­wood in Cam­bo­dia or Thai­land, we’ll take le­gal ac­tion with­out ex­cep­tion,” he said.

Sophal said the Cam­bo­dian log­ger was ar­rested by Thai sol­diers about 100 me­tres from the O’smach casino and re­sort, which is un­der bor­der po­lice unit 702’s juris­dic­tion.

Bor­der po­lice unit 702 com­man­der Kong Sokhan said the area is un­der the juris­dic­tion of im­mi­gra­tion po­lice, who have com­plete au­thor­ity over a 1km ra­dius of the O’smach in­ter­na­tional bor­der check­point.

Im­mi­gra­tion po­lice of­fi­cia ls could not be reached for com­ment on Mon­day.

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