Police on Sunday released six Cambodian men who were arrested in Oddar Meanchey province the night before with a load of rosewood they had logged in Thailand and carried back across the border, an official said.
Hang Bor, deputy provincial police chief in charge of border affairs, said border officers apprehended seven loggers along the Thai border in Trapaing Prasat district’s Tomnup Dach commune at about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The men, all between the ages of 20 and 25, were part of a group of 20 that had returned to Cambodia with a haul of luxury-grade timber, Mr. Bor said.
“We stopped them from traveling through the O’Svay checkpoint while they were carrying the rosewood on their backs,” he said. “But the other men ran quickly into the jungle.”
Police confiscated 18 pieces of rosewood, three handsaws and three axes from the men, Mr. Bor said.
He said that as officers were transporting the seven men to the provincial police headquarters in a pickup truck, one of them managed to escape.
“One of the men jumped down from the pickup and fled into the forest,” he said.
Once at the police station, the remaining six loggers confessed to crossing into Thailand a week earlier, Mr. Bor said, adding that they were held overnight, “educated,” then released.
“We ordered them to sign a contract to stop illegally crossing the border,” he said. “We did not send them to court because they did not commit a serious crime.”
Mr. Bor said the provincial governor had ordered his unit to step up patrols due to recent media reports about Cambodian loggers being shot at and killed by Thai security forces.
“Authorities often tell our people not to go into Thai forests because we are concerned they will be shot by Thai soldiers,” he said. “But they still want to go because they claim they are starving.”
Provincial governor Sar Thavy could not be reached.