The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested that the Thai government investigate a report that Thai troops burned a Cambodian teenager alive after the 16-year-old was discovered illegally logging in Thailand.
In a letter sent yesterday to the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs refers to a report from Oddar Meanchey provincial authorities stating that on Friday afternoon Thai troops shot at a group of Cambodians allegedly cutting down trees on Thai soil.
“Two teenagers from this group were badly wounded in the shooting. One of them named Mao Kleung managed to escape the scene, while the other injured boy named Yon Rith, 16-years-old, was arrested and burned alive by the Thai forces,” the letter states, referring to the provincial-level report.
“The Royal Government of Cambodia requests the authorities concerned of Thailand to take appropriate measures to prevent such atrocities from happening again and conduct a thorough investigation into this unfortunate incident and bring to justice those who committed the above acts of cruelty,” the letter states.
Kamrob Palawatwichai, first secretary of the Thai Embassy, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Yim Thin, deputy governor of Oddar Meanchey province, said Mr Rith’s charred remains have been recovered and several people who accompanied Mr Rith claim they saw him burned alive.
Thai troops reportedly flew in on a helicopter before attacking the illegal loggers, he said.
“The man was shot and caught and burned alive,” the deputy governor said. “It was brutal.”
On Sunday, Mr Kleung said by telephone from his hospital room in Samraong town that he did not witness Mr Rith being burned but did see him get shot and later saw black smoke and heard screams emanating from the scene of the shooting.
Kuy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the courts should have handled the issue of illegal logging.
“We have the courts, and the courts have processes. They cannot convict someone with the point of gun,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Tim Sturrock)