Home > Local News > Ties’at risk’ if Phnom Penh drags out case

Ties’at risk’ if Phnom Penh drags out case

Kasit wants Cabinet to review relations if no progress in two days

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya wants
the Cabinet to review Thailand’s relations with Cambodia unless Phnom
Penh makes progress with the case of the seven arrested Thai nationals,
including Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth, in the next couple of days, a
government source said.
 
Kasit told the Cabinet meeting yesterday
that he had failed to talk Cambodian authorities into settling the case
out of court, because Phnom Penh was angry with some members of the
group, especially yellowshirt activist Veera Somkwamkid, who was caught
twice in the same location, the source said.
 
Panich, Veera and the
other yellowshirt activists were arrested last Wednesday on Cambodian
soil near Sa Kaew’s Bang Nong Chan community while allegedly inspecting
the disputed border area.
 
Veera was captured at the same location in
August when he and his group crossed the border illegally. He was
released shortly afterwards thanks to help from the border police.
This
time, though, Phnom Penh is taking the case seriously and is
prosecuting the intruders. However, a Cambodian senior security source
said Panich might be given bail because he apparently had no intention
to provoke arrest.
 
Kasit said on television that though the
government was unable to intervene in the Cambodian justice system, he
hoped the authorities in Phnom Penh would speed up the process. Illegal
entry is not a serious crime and they do not deserve tough punishment,
he said.
 
“Our relations are improving and I hope Cambodia does not
take this minor case of illegal entry so seriously. Otherwise, we would
need to review our relations,” he said.
Information from the Royal
Thai Survey Department indicated that the group had gone just 55 metres
into Cambodian territory, Kasit said.
 
A series of leaked video
clips showed that Panich was speaking on the phone with an unknown
person and wanted this person to tell Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva that he was walking into Cambodia and wanted them to keep in touch in case “something” happens.
 
Abhisit
said he was aware of Panich’s trip to the border area but did not
expect him to go that far. He said he had simply told Panich to listen
to members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy movement, who have problems with the boundary area.
 
Government
spokesman Panithan Wattanayakorn said Panich had told Abhisit that he
would visit the border area in Prachin Buri province. “However, he
changed the destination. If Panich had informed the prime minister that
he would enter Cambodia, the premier would have stopped him.”
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the video clip posted on YouTube had put Thailand at a disadvantage.
 
A
Phnom Penh court has charged the seven Thais with illegal entry and
unlawfully entering a military base, which could see each of them
getting a combined jail term of 18 months if convicted.
 
Kasit said
the Foreign Ministry had provided legal assistance by hiring a lawyer
to defend the group and assigned officials at the Thai Embassy to
monitor their wellbeing in prison. He said the court would hold the
first hearing on Thursday tomorrow and that the group had the right to
request bail.
 
Meanwhile, a group of about 200 yellowshirt
protesters, led by former industry minister Chaiwat Sinsuwong, rallied
at a border market in Sa Kaew province, demanding that the government
help rescue their compatriots.
 
However, residents of Bang Nong Chan
and Non Mak Moon communities were against this gathering and about 800
of them gathered at the subdistrict administration office demanding
that the yellow shirts be kept out. They said they did not want their
peace to be disturbed and that people on both sides of the border could
live together peacefully even though the governments were in a conflict
over the boundary.
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Categories: Local News
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