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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Two Detained Thais Released on Bail

Panich Vikitsreth, center, a member of Thailand's Parliament , is escorted by Cambodian court security personnel upon his workout at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday.

Two detained Thais were released on bail Thursday while two more have been additionally charged with espionage along with illegal border crossing.

Thai lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth and a second member of the seven arrested in December, Narumol Jitrawarattana, were released after they paid about $250 each, court officials said.

“They will stay in Cambodia,” said Ros Aun, a defense lawyer.

Five more—four men and one woman—remain in custody, despite requests for bail. All seven are charged with illegally crossing into Cambodia and trespassing in a military area, after they reportedly arrived to inspect claims of Cambodian border encroachment. Those charges carry a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.

Sok Roeun, deputy prosecutor for Phnom Penh Municipal Court, confirmed the bail release, but said the defendants would remain “under the control of the court.”

Meanwhile, Thai activist Veera Somkwamkid and his secretary, Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, faced questioning Wednesday on additional charges of gathering information that could threaten national security. That charge carries a potential sentence of 10 years in prison.

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Bangkok: Protest Against Arrest of Thais in Cambodia

About 400 protesters rallied outside Bangkok's Government House on Thursday… demanding the government speed up the process of seeking the release of a group of Thais detained in Cambodia.

Protesters from the Thailand Patriot Network, a splinter group of the People's Alliance for Democracy, set up the temporary shelters outside the premier's office.

They condemned Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on their failure to free the detainees.

The seven Thais were charged on December 30th in Cambodia, with illegal entry and encroachment when they entered a disputed territory along the border.

Offences carry a maximum sentence of 18 months.

Two of them have been released on bail, but have to stay at the Thai Embassy in Cambodia until the trial.

Cambodian prosecutors have filed additional espionage charges against a coordinator of the Thai Patriots Network and his secretary for attempting to collect information that is detrimental to Cambodia's national defense.

Espionage carries a sentence of five to 10 years.

Ties between the two countries have warmed in recent months in the wake of diplomatic spats over jurisdiction of land surrounding a 900-year-old temple and Cambodia's decision to employ former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

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