Cambodian and Thai authorities are negotiating a settlement between provincial Thai authorities and the families of two Cambodians who were allegedly shot by Thai border police in Oddar Meanchey province Nov 24.
While the two sides have not decided on the amount the families will receive, Cambodian officials said this is the first step in the “diplomatic and peaceful” resolution to the shootings.
“We want to press the Thai authorities to bring the men [accused of shooting to death the two Cambodians] to court, but it really depends on what the Thai authorities decide to do,” said an official from the Ministry of Interior who declined to be named. But the official added that the Cambodian government did not want to exaggerate the incident.
Although no compensation has been given, Thai authorities delivered a total of $97.77 to the families of the two victims on Nov 28 to cover funeral expenses, said O’Smach village Chief Chee Vin.
“This is not compensation,” he said. “This money could not be compensation for the lives of the Cambodians. It is very cheap if they give compensation in exchange for the lives.”
The Ministry of Interior received an official report from Oddar Meanchey first deputy governor Mao Tim last week. It stated that Thai border police shot at three and killed two Cambodians who had wandered into Thai territory at 2 pm on Nov 24. The Cambodians were foraging for tree roots and other ingredients for traditional medicines, the Interior official said.
Local authorities conducted autopsies on the two men killed—identified as “Hong” and Long Nam—after Thai authorities returned the bodies to their families in O’Smach village. Two bullet wounds were found in each body, the Interior official said.
“The Cambodian people in O’Smach village and the victims’ families are very angry with the Thai people…. When the Thai authorities sent the bodies back to the families, the people [in the village] wanted to destroy the Thai trucks, but authorities stopped them,” said Youen Thin, deputy governor of Oddar Meanchey province, who helped compile the report sent to the Ministry of Interior.
Two high-ranking Thai embassy officials said they had not received any reports about the shooting from Cambodian or Thai officials and therefore could not comment on the case.
The alleged shooting in Oddar Meanchey marked the second time within a month that Thai border police were accused of shooting to death Cambodians at the border. On Nov 1, Thai border police were blamed for the shooting death of a Cambodian near Thmar Pouk district in Banteay Meanchey province.