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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Thai-Cambodian JBC meets on border temple conflict

BANGKOK, Feb 3 (TNA) - Members of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) met here Tuesday after a hiatus of over two months, with an aim of resolving the two nations' ongoing border conflict, especially in the environs of the ancient temple of Preah Vihear.

Meeting in Bangkok, Vasin Teeravechyan, chairman of the Thai-Cambodian JBC headed the Thai side, while Var Kim Hong, a senior Cambodian minister, led the Cambodian negotiators.

Tuesday's meeting was the first since the committee last conferred in Cambodia's Siem Reap province in November, when they agreed to speed to a survey and demarcate the area around Preah Vihear temple. Members of the two neighbours failed to reach agreement then.

The survey and border demarcation teams have moved from Thailand's Trat province bordering Cambodia to start work at Preah Vihear.

Mr. Vasin told reporters that the delegates discussed a possible additional team tasked to survey and demarcate the border. The new team will survey the area from Phusing and Kantaralak districts of Thailand's Si Sa Ket province, while the existing team will survey from Phusing district to Surin province.

The Thai chairman, however, said the issue has not yet to be settled pending recognition on the official name of Preah Vihear.

Cambodia insisted that the ancient temple should be officially recognised as the Temple of Preah Vihear, while Thailand preferred it to be recognised as the Temple of Phra Viharn, or Preah Vihear.

The unresolved issue, Mr. Vasin said, prevented the endorsement of documents from the last JBC meeting, which delays the border demarcation work.

Two Cambodian soldiers were killed in an exchange of gunfire with Thai troops along a disputed section of the border last July.

Tension rose after Preah Vihear was awarded heritage status by the United Nations last year. The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia, but the demarcation of the surrounding land remains in dispute.

Thailand insists on using the watershed as the border, while Cambodia maintains that the demarcation of the area must be based on a map drawn in 1908. (TNA)


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B.C. man died in motorcycle crash: Cambodian police

VANCOUVER -- Cambodian police officials say a B.C. humanitarian worker died of injuries from a motorcycle crash - not the violent robbery previously reported.

Cambodian authorities say Jiri Zivny was fatally injured after a moped motorcycle he was riding collided with another moped.

Mr. Zivny died Jan. 15 after being injured in the coastal resort town of Sihanoukville, where he was vacationing after doing aid work in Vietnam for the International Hope Society.

Officials from the society, based in the B.C. Interior city of Kamloops, have said Mr. Zivny, 46, died from injuries he suffered after being clubbed on the head by assailants who stole his cash and clothes and left him in a coma.

This version of events has been disputed by Sboang Sarath, the Sihanoukville governor.

"I want the [Canadian] websites to review the case and correct it, since it contaminates Cambodia's fame," Mr. Sarath told the Cambodia Daily newspaper in Khmer, the native language of Cambodia.

Cambodian police have even produced a witness to the crash. Teing Ngeoun, 24, claimed to be a passenger of the moped that collided with Mr.. Zivny's moped.

Ket Sopheak, chief of Sihanoukville's traffic police, has said he considers the case closed.

Mr. Zivny's colleagues at the International Hope Society said their understanding of his injuries came from Reid Sheftall, an American doctor who treated Mr. Zivny at a hospital in the capital city of Phnom Penh.

Monty Aldoff, a friend of Mr. Zivney's, said Mr. Sheftall told the society he believed Mr. Zivny had been beaten and his injuries did not appear to be from a motor vehicle collision.

But a recent article in Asia Sentinel, a web-based publication, carried interviews with other doctors who backed the Cambodian police's view of Mr. Zivny's death.

"His injuries were not unlike those of other motorbike accident victims," said Dr. Phak Dararith, in the Sentinel article.

"The swelling was internal," he said. There were no bruises or lacerations on his head that would indicate he had been struck by an assailant, he and other doctors at the hospital said.

The confusion over Mr. Zivny's death has left some of his friends wondering if they will ever find out what happened.

"No truth will ever come from this. It will remain a mystery forever," said Mr. Aldoff.

Lisa Monette, a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa, declined to discuss any details of Mr. Zivny's death, citing federal privacy legislation.

"We continue to give support to the family and are in contact with the local authorities who are responsible for the investigation," said Ms. Monette.

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Cambodia to reform commune-level policing, border security in 2009

PHNOM PENH, Cambodian National Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun has pledged to reform commune-level policing and border security in 2009, said English-Khmer language newspaper the Cambodia Daily on Tuesday.

One such reform would be establishing telephone hotlines to take complaints at municipal and provincial police headquarters and "national police will check up on the situation of the network and system of administrative police across the country," he told the annual national assembly of Cambodian police here on Monday.

In addition, boxes have been set up at all 76 commune police stations in Phnom Penh to accept comments and criticism from local residents, he said.

The system is still in trial phase, but will expand to all 24 provinces in 2009, he added.

Villagers must provide more feedback to both commune police and border police about illegal activities to help improve security, he said.

"We have to strengthen the border police and provide them with reasonable uniforms, camp equipment and training. We also need participation of villagers," he added.

During the meeting, it was made public that the kingdom's crime rate dropped by 23 percent in 2008 compared with the previous year, due to political stability, economic development and hard work of the police.

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Cambodia cuts term for convicted German man

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: A Cambodian appeals court Tuesday reduced the prison term of a German man convicted of sexually abusing four Cambodian boys, a court official said.

A court panel cut Alexander Moritz Watrin's prison term from 10 years to seven years, said Appeals Court Judge Samrith Sophal.

A provincial court had sentenced Watrin, 38, in October 2006 for molesting four boys aged 7 to 15.

Cambodia has long been a magnet for foreign pedophiles, and its courts have stepped up action against sex offenders in recent years.

Police arrested Watrin in April 2006 at his rental home in Sihanoukville, in the south of the country, for his allegedly molesting the boys, paying them $5 to $10 each time he had sex with them.

Pich Sorya, a defense lawyer of Watrin, said he will discuss with his client whether to further appeal to Cambodia's Supreme Court.
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Slain Long Beach woman was well-known in Lao-Cambodian community

The body of Leam Sovanasy, 76, a devout Buddhist and grandmother of 25, was found at her home Saturday. She was stabbed to death.

By Corina Knoll

A 76-year-old woman stabbed to death in her Long Beach home was a well-known figure in the Cambodian and Laotian communities, her son said Monday.

The body of Leam Sovanasy, who lived with relatives in the 1400 block of Peterson Avenue, was discovered by a relative about 11 a.m. Saturday, police said. She had been stabbed multiple times in her upper body. Sovanasy was ethnically Laotian but born in Cambodia, said her son, who asked not to be named.

She arrived in the United States with seven children more than 20 years ago. Many other families from her village have since immigrated to Long Beach, forming what Sovanasy's nephew, Sam Bunlot, called a local Lao-Cambodian community.

"Most of us, we know each other," said Bunlot, 40. "She's one of the elders, so she's very popular."

Grieving family members said they had no idea why Sovanasy, a grandmother of 25, would be attacked in her home. Investigators are trying to determine a motive for the killing, said Lisa Massacani, a police spokeswoman.

Sovanasy attended services at Cambodian Buddhist Temple in Long Beach four to five times a week, monks said through a translator.

"She devoted her life to Buddhism," Bunlot said. "All she did was try to be a good person."

Long Beach police ask that anyone with information about the case call homicide Dets. Russ Moss or Teri Hubert at (562) 570-7244.

corina.knoll@latimes.com

Times staff writer Joanna Lin contributed to this report.



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