Ratanakkiri Provincial Court on Thursday freed 12 Vietnamese nationals on bail after they were charged for illegally entering the country to log timber.
Keo Pisoth, provincial court secretariat chief, yesterday said that Investigating Judge Leng Vanrith decided to release them on bail.
“The investigating judge decided to release them on bail but they were put under court supervision,” he said, adding that the 12 had been charged with illegal entry into Cambodia.
According to a provincial information department report sent to Information Minister Khieu Kanharith and posted on Facebook on April 20, the 12 were arrested for allegedly crossing into the Kingdom without documentation.
The report said they were arrested by joint provincial security forces on April 16 and that six vehicles were impounded.
It added that the arrests happened after the Vietnamese were allegedly caught cutting timber at the Virachey National Park.
Based on a document found by police, the 12 were brought into the country by Sek Virak, a representative of the Noupheap Sophy Investment Company, and a Vietnamese man named Vo Ngu Yevsa.
Provincial court prosecutor Chea Pech was quoted by a local newspaper on April 20 as saying that the 12 had been charged with illegal entry into Cambodia.
“All 12 Vietnamese nationals were workers hired by a Vietnamese boss and Noupheap Sophy Investment Company director Sek Virak, who rented the vehicles for the Vietnamese nationals,” he said.
Environmental activist Ouch Leng, chairman of the Cambodia Human Rights Task Force, yesterday said that the granting of bail to the Vietnamese would encourage others to keep logging illegally in Cambodia.
“It clearly demonstrates that there is collusion between illegal loggers and the authorities to continue destroying the Kingdom’s forests,” he said.
Both Suos La, provincial court director, and Mr Pech declined to comment when contacted yesterday.