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Friday, September 30, 2011

Thailand mulls asking Cambodia to transfer two detained Thai activists

BANGKOK, Sept 30 - Thailand is considering asking Cambodia to transfer two Thai activists detained in the neighbouring country for espionage to serve out their jail terms in their own homeland, a government spokesperson said on Friday.

Thai government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisaeng made the statement following a report in Phnom Penh Post about possible prisoner swap between Thailand and Cambodia.

Ms Thitima said the government is now mulling over asking Cambodia to transfer Veera Somkwamkid, coordinator of Thailand's Patriots Network, and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, now in a Cambodian jail on spying charges and illegal entry.

She said the idea was floated during the recent visit of Thai Defence Minister Gen Yutthasak Sasiprapa to the neighbouring country and that the law on the transfer of prisoners has been enforced since 2009 but on condition that the prisoners must serve out one-third of their jail terms.

For royal pardon, the prisoners must serve two-thirds of their assigned jail term, so it depends on the Cambodian government as to how it will proceed with the Thai request, the spokesperson said.

Ms Thitima added there is also a possibility that the prisoners' jail term will be reduced on Cambodian special occasions to one-third before being transferred to Thailand.

"The government wants to secure the release of Mr Veera and Ms Ratree as soon as possible," she stated.

The Phnom Penh Post earlier quoted Ms Thitima as saying prisoner exchanges between Phnom Penh and Bangkok could take place “very soon” and that the Thai Ministry of Justice had begun examining in detail how to circumvent existing legal impediments.

A Cambodian court on Feb 1 ruled that the pair were guilty of espionage, illegal entry, and trespassing in a military zone. Mr Veera was sentenced to an eight-year jail term while Ms Ratree was handed a six-year jail term. Their petitions seeking a royal pardon were rejected as the Cambodian government asserted the two must serve two-thirds of their jail terms first. (MCOT online news)

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