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Monday, January 10, 2011

Legal Advisor Seeks Release of Seven Thais From Cambodian Detention

There is no a disputed border area like NTD Asia Brief News had reported on the internet, the Thai MP is representing million Thai nationals. What was that meant? It meant Thais invading Cambodia.

Thailand sent a legal advisor to Cambodia on Sunday to seek the release of the seven Thais who were detained for entering a disputed border area and military zone on December 29.

The legal advisor met with Cambodia’s defense lawyers and the Thai ambassador in Phnom Penh.

[Nataporn Toprayoou, Thai Legal Advisor]:
"We need to talk to the lawyers here and let them know that we would like to meet the seven Thai detainees."

It's been arranged for him to meet the detainees on Monday to hear their side of the story.

Last month, the court charged the seven Thais with offenses which carry a maximum sentence of 18 months.

At the center of the dispute is the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple - a nationalist symbol in both countries.

The International Court of Justice awarded Preah Vihear to Cambodia in 1962 but Thailand lays claim to much of the land surrounding it.

[Nataporn Toprayoou, Thai Legal Advisor]:
"Let the court prosecute. We cannot say this person is guilty or that person is not guilty so far as there is no proof of the disputed land belonging to the country. We have to prove this concretely."

Most of the detainees are members of the People's Alliance for Democracy, or PAD.

PAD members have whipped up nationalistic sentiment over border disputes with Cambodia at times leading to deadly fighting.
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Court slaps 2 Thais with spying charge

Immediate release not possible, says Hun Sen

The seven Thai suspects arrested for trespassing into Cambodia have plunged deeper into trouble as two of them have been slapped with an additional charge of espionage.

Under the new charge, Veera Somkwamkid, a coordinator of the Thai Patriots Network, a splinter group of the yellow shirt People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), and Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, identified as Mr Veera's secretary, could face between five and 10 years in jail if found guilty.

The two were additionally charged with "collecting information which might damage Cambodia's national security", according to Phnom Penh Municipal Court officials.

The two are among the group of seven Thais arrested by Cambodian soldiers on Dec 29 last year, which included Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth, when they entered a disputed area claimed by Cambodia near Nong Jan village in Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet district adjacent to Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province.

The Cambodian court earlier charged them with illegal entry and trespassing on a military area.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen strongly reaffirmed yesterday his government's position to allow the Cambodian judicial process to take its course.

The Phnom Penh Post quoted Hun Sen as saying that the Thai parliamentarian and six other Thais arrested on trespassing charges will have to serve at least two-thirds of their jail sentences if convicted.

"Nobody, not even the United Nations or former Thai prime minister Thaksin [Shinawatra], could interfere in the Cambodian judicial process for an immediate release for them," Hun Sen said via the Bayon television station.

"We will talk about this further when the court has completed its procedure, but the law is the law, the court is the court, and the government cannot influence or order the court to do this or that for a political compromise."

If found guilty of the charges against them, the seven could file an appeal within 30 days.

Hun Sen said that on the night of Dec 29, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya called him about 10 times but he did not answer the phone.

The Foreign Ministry yesterday submitted bail requests for the seven Thai detainees with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said the court would make a decision on bail within five days.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday called an urgent meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and Mr Kasit to discuss ways to help get the seven Thais released.

"We are looking at trends in the case. Our goal is to help them to be released and our sovereignty must not be violated," said Mr Abhisit.

Meanwhile, Chaiwat Sinsuwong, a leader of the Thai Patriots Network, said the Thai embassy in Cambodia had tried to bar the network's legal team from meeting the seven Thais. This could affect their court defence and consequently deprive them of an opportunity to return to Thailand.

He said the network had also petitioned the UN asking it to intervene.

"We will not accept the Cambodian court's ruling as the court procedures are not in line with the fourth Geneva Convention," he said.

Supreme Commander Songkitti Jaggabatara yesterday denied Cambodian media reports that Thai soldiers had shot at Cambodians along the border, saying the troops only fired in response to gangs who sneaked into Thailand to fell trees and then opened fire on the soldiers when discovered.
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As Divisive Jan. 7 Holiday Passes, An Expert Reflects

Jan. 7 remains a contentious day for Cambodians, marking both the ouster of the Khmer Rouge and the beginning of Vietnamese occupation. And while Cambodian's can be bitterly divided on the day, an independent analyst says that's the “beauty of democracy.”

“We should take these differences and bind us to each other, to unite build the country,” said Chea Vannath, as a guest on “Hello VOA” Thursday.

People have different views the world over, she said, but some people understand the “art of the the win-win” and that different opinions can be a strength.

The ruling Cambodian People's Party remains a fervent supporters of the day, while denouncing those who are critical. Meanwhile, the opposition and its supporters find more to celebrate on Oct. 23, the birth day of Cambodia as a constitutional democracy.

On Jan. 7, 1979, Vietnamese forces pushed the Khmer Rouge from power. They did not leave until 1989, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Bitter civil war continued through Oct. 23, 1991, when a peace accord was reached.

Both days are important to reflect on Cambodian history, she said.

“Jan. 7 is the father and Oct. 23 is the mother,” Chea Vannath said. “Children need both a father and a mother and they can't say a father has more favor than a mother, can't say that a mother has more favor than the father.”

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