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Family visits Thai lawmaker in jail

Relatives of Panich Vikitsreth, a member of parliament from Thailand’s
ruling Democrat Party, arrive at Prey Sar prison for a scheduled visit
on Monday. Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Family members of a Thai parliamentarian arrested for trespassing in
Banteay Meanchey province visited him in prison on Monday ahead of what
is sure to be a high-profile trial that will test the newly-improved
relations between Thailand and Cambodia.

Panich Vikitsreth, an MP
from Thailand’s ruling Democrat Party, was part of a group of seven
Thai nationals arrested in Banteay Meanchey last week, across the border
from Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province.

Heng Hak, director of the
general department of prisons at the Ministry of Interior, said
relatives of Panich and the other Thais had travelled to Prey Sar prison
on Monday to see them.

“The detainees made a request for the
meeting via the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh,” Heng Hak said, adding that
he was unsure of exactly how many visitors were in the group.

The
seven Thais were charged in Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week with
illegal entry and unlawfully entering a military base, charges that
carry a combined maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.

Thai
officials said Panich, a member of the two countries’ Joint Border
Committee, had travelled along with the rest of the group to
“investigate” the border demarcation effort.

Also among those
arrested was Veera Somkwamkid, a former leader of the Yellow Shirts or
People’s Alliance for Democracy, who also leads the Thailand Patriot
Network, a PAD splinter group.

Investigating judge Chang Sinath said Monday that no date had been set for a trial.

“The
investigation will take more time,” she said. “I just received this
case over the weekend, so I cannot say when the investigation will be
done.”

Dy Phen, director of the border relations office in
Banteay Meanchey province, said roughly 300 Yellow Shirt activists
protested just across the border on Monday, close to the site of the
arrests. Thai security forces, he added, had kept watch over the group
and had ensured that they did not cross into Cambodia.

“If they
enter Cambodia, we will use our law,” Dy Phen said. “Our armed forces
have been deployed to defend against any encroachment.”

The protesters later moved their rally to the Cambodian consular office in Sa Kaeo province, Dy Phen added.

Over
the weekend, Yellow Shirt activists rallied outside the Cambodian
Embassy in Bangkok, claiming the seven prisoners were arrested on Thai
soil and demanding their release. Thai officials have acknowledged,
however, that the arrests took place inside Cambodian territory.

Phnom Penh Post
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Categories: Local News
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