The Mondolkiri Provincial Court on Tuesday charged 15 Vietnamese nationals with illegally crossing the border and logging protected forest, four days after the group was detained by members of the ethnic Bunong minority in a community forest 20 km from the border.
Ya Narin, director of the court, said the case against the 15 illegal loggers is being investigated, and provincial prosecutor, Khut Sopheang, said the suspects “have already been charged,” and declined to comment further.
As of Tuesday evening, five of the suspects were being held in pre-trial detention at the provincial prison while 10 continued to be questioned at the court in Sen Monorom city, according to Sok Ratha, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc.
“Five of the 15 suspects are in pre-trial detention at the provincial prison today,” he said.
On Saturday, about 60 Bunong villagers in Pech Chreada district surrounded the illegal loggers—whose activities the indigenous community has been monitoring and trying to prevent for about two years.
After the raid, the villagers confiscated eight cubic meters of Koki wood, four trucks, seven chainsaws, an assault rifle and nine motorcycles.