Three more Thai residents were arrested Wednesday in connection with alleged illegal logging in Pursat province near the Thai border, bringing to 19 the number of suspects rounded up by military paratroopers.
According to Koh Kong province police chief Thong Narong, 16 of those arrested are Thai residents and three suspects are Cambodians.
Speaking in Phnom Penh Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the situation with their Thai counterparts.
The premier said most Thai officials were focusing on upcoming elections in that country, and weren’t paying enough attention to logging on the border.
Hun Sen said the helicopters used to drop troops near the illegal loggers were equipped with rockets, and said the soldiers would use them if necessary.
As for any Cambodian officials or soldiers who might be involved, “anyone found doing this will be fired and sent to court,” Hun Sen said. “Taking their rank away isn’t enough.”
The RCAF commander-in-chief, General Ke Kim Yan estimated 1,000 cubic meters of logs have been cut in the area.
All 19 suspects would be brought to Phnom Penh today, police said.
Meanwhile, the Forestry Department has announced auctions for legal logging.
Meanwhile, the Forestry Department has taken out advertisements in the Khmer press announcing auctions scheduled throughout January for permission to log legally on lots in Kompong Chhnang, Kompong Speu, Kompong Thom, Stung Treng, Kratie, and Kampot provinces.
(Additional reporting by Saing Soenthrith and Thet Sambath)