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Friday, February 18, 2011

Rallies against interests of jailed Thais: PM


Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva warned yesterday that if the yellow shirts continued protesting and pressuring the Cambodian government, it might have negative consequences on the two Thai nationals being held in a Phnom Penh prison.

He added that the government was doing what it could to help get Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipatanapaiboon released.

Abhisit also stressed that the decision on legal proceedings would ultimately depend on the two detainees and their families. The prime minister admitted that the conflict between Thailand and Cambodia was complicating matters, and urged the Thai Patriots Network (TPN) to cooperate instead of making things worse.

TPN is planning to send representatives to visit Veera and Ratree in prison next Friday and find out how they want to proceed.

In a related development, Abhisit said he was not aware of any Asean forces being deployed in Cambodia or if the neighbouring country would take the conflict to the World Court.

Meanwhile, Nattaporn Tor-prayoon, the lawyer representing Veera and Ratree, said TPN did not have the authority to sack him because the network had not hired him.

The network is unhappy about the lawyer planning to seek a royal pardon for the two activists instead of fighting the case through courts. Nattaporn, denying that the Thai Foreign Ministry had pressured him, said he had spoken to Veera's younger brother yesterday morning and he had confirmed that the two were still planning to seek a royal pardon.

"I hope they are sympathetic to the others [detained] and recognise the hardship [in prison]. Perhaps they might want to try being in jail themselves," Nattaporn said. "Do not mix politics with the suffering of others."


Nattaporn said the families of the two might issue a public statement soon, explaining that the decision to take the battle to the Appeal Court had been dropped because of the length of time involved.

The Thai Patriots Network, led by Chaiwat Sinsuwong, had announced earlier that it had relieved Nattaporn of his duties because he had wrongly advised his clients to seek a royal pardon.

TPN added that they considered the entire court proceedings illegitimate because Veera and Ratree, along with the five who have been released, were wrongly accused of trespassing and espionage. The group has also denounced the Abhisit government as being insincere in solving the problem and securing the release of the two detainees.

Meanwhile, in Si Sa Ket, which saw deadly clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops earlier this month, about 450 new bunkers will be built and the 300 old ones renovated, Governor Somsak Suwansujarit said yesterday.

Work on the bunkers will begin on Monday in the border district of Kantharalak, which was hit by a hail of rockets from Cambodia during the four days of fighting. The governor said he expected the bunkers to offer villagers better protection in case of renewed fighting.

Yesterday, a Thai F-16 jet fighter was spotted flying near Preah Vihear Temple, which is located on the common border between the two countries.

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