Mondolkiri Villagers Continue VN Logging Allegations

After filing a complaint with the Mondolkiri provincial court on Friday, ethnic minority villagers this weekend filed two more complaints with the human rights group Adhoc claiming that provincial authorities in two instances released illegal loggers from neighboring Vietnam, a villager and rights worker said.

The first complaint duplicates the one made with the court, in which villagers allege that a Cambodian soldier based at the border with Vietnam threatened to shoot them when they detained five Vietnamese loggers in the province’s Busra commune, Banong villager Phlang Sin said yesterday.

The second complaint to Adhoc was made against the court’s own prosecutor, Im Sophan, whom villagers accuse of releasing, in a separate incident, four other Vietnamese men caught with two trucks of illegally-logged timber and wild animals, Mr Sin said.

Mr Sin claims that he and other Banong villagers witnessed Mr Sophan and other officials arrest the four Vietnamese loggers in the O’Toy area of the province, but the suspects were later released.

According to Mr Sin, if the prosecutor fails to investigate their first complaint against the soldier they will push ahead with a complaint to the court over the second complaint, which involves the prosecutor.

“He [the prosecutor] promised to solve the first case in which a RCAF border soldier from No 8 [border post] threatened to shoot us when we held five Vietnamese loggers,” Mr Sin said.

The soldier “should have helped us to bring those Vietnamese loggers to court. Instead, he threatened to shoot us villagers,” Mr Sin continued.

If the court does not act against the soldier, the villagers will ask Adhoc to intervene in the second case involving the prosecutor, he said.

“When the court fails to solve the matter of five illegal Vietnamese loggers and the RCAF border soldier, we will ask Adhoc to intervene in our [second] complaint, which is on hold,” he added.

“The prosecutor claimed through the media that he knew nothing of the arrest [of the four],” Mr Sin said.

Mr Sophan could not be reached for comment yesterday, and neither could court director Ya Narin.

Provincial investigator for Adhoc, Chhay Ty, confirmed his organization had accepted separate complaints against the RCAF border soldier who allegedly threatened the villagers and forced the release of the five suspected illegal loggers and the court prosecutor.

“First, we are investigating into the allegation against the RCAF soldier, as villagers also took photographs as a proof of illegal logging and intimidation,” he said.

“The second complaint against the prosecutor is being held in our hands, but we are not going to conduct an investigation until the villagers ask us to,” he added.


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