Thai soldiers arrested seven Cambodians on Friday who crossed into Thailand from Pailin province while logging illegally.
Chhun Chheuy, acting police chief of Pailin town, which borders with Chanthaburi province’s Pong Nam Ron district, said the group was made up of Cambodians from multiple provinces.
“They went to cut timber in a prohibited area. Thai soldiers spotted and arrested them,” he said.
“Right now, upper level officers are communicating with the Thai side to seek leniency because they were in the wrong.”
Ly Sokha, chief of the Thai-Cambodian border unit, said the area the group entered into was the Thai King’s protected park. They were arrested between border poles 67 and 68.
“From pole 62 to 90, there is only thnung hardwood, while kranhoung hardwood runs from pole 90 until Trat province bordering with Battambang province,” he said.
“It is the forest that is protected by the King. Our intervention is only to request the Thai side to not shoot the loggers when they spot them.”
“We have caught the same loggers many times,” he added. “Fining them made no difference. Some only stopped their illegal activity after the Red Cross stepped in, built them homes and aided them financially, since some of them are disabled.”
Mr Sokha said he is trying to secure the group’s return to Cambodia, especially if they agree to cooperate and inform the authorities whom they planned to sell the wood to.
“The logging work could not get done if there was no one on the Thai side also involved because the felling of a big tree creates a disturbance,” he said.