15 Suspected Illegal Thai Loggers To Be Freed

Fifteen Thai citizens held in Prey Sar prison since last Decem­ber and accused of illegal logging on the Cambodian border will be released at the request of Thai officials.

Co-Minister of Defense Tea Banh said Wednesday the Thais would be released because they had been in jail long enough for the offense they committed.

“I think it’s fair,” Tea Banh said.

Thai foreign minister Surikiart Sathirathai made the request during a meeting on Monday with Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh.

Municipal Court Chief Pro­secutor Uk Savuth said Wednes­day he had not received a letter ordering him to release the Thai prisoners.

About 150 members of the elite 911 paratrooper unit along with 150 military police flown in by helicopter conducted a weeklong crackdown on alleged illegal logging along border areas in Pursat and Koh Kong province. Fifteen Thais, three Cambodians and one Vietnamese citizen were charged with destruction of state property and unlicensed transport of forest by-products. The Thais were also charged with illegal entry into Cambodia.

According to the Bangkok Post, Thai Prime Minister Thak­sin Shinawatra requested the releases. The Thai Prime Min­ister is scheduled to visit Cam­bodia June 18-19.


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