Home > Local News > Thai detainees in Cambodia seek bail

Thai detainees in Cambodia seek bail

Prem concerned about fate of seven ‘trespassers’ as they head to
court and Kasit insists no preferential treatment for Democrat MP
Panich

Seven detained Thai nationals, including a lawmaker from the ruling
Democrat Party, will today submit bail requests as they face trial in
Cambodia over trespassing charges.
Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda has expressed concern over their fate, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday.
Abhisit said he had briefed Prem on the situation and the related boundary issue, which is a matter of dispute with Cambodia.
The
seven Thais will testify in court one by one and a bail request will be
submitted for each of them, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani
Thongpakdi.
The seven, including Democrat Party MP
Panich Vikitsreth and yellow-shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid, were
arrested last week while inspecting a disputed border area near Ban
Nong Chan in Sa Kaew province.
A Cambodian court charged them
with illegal entry and unlawfully entering a military area, which could
lead to a combined sentence of 18 months in prison for each of them.
Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya yesterday said the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh would stand bail for the accused.
Any
assistance to the Thai nationals will be conducted step by step and
without intervention in the Cambodian justice system, he said.
The
minister dismissed an earlier report that he had recommended a Cabinet
review of relations with Cambodia unless Phnom Penh were to speed up
the trial process and ensure leniency. The government plans no measures
to retaliate against Cambodia over the case, he added.
“The
Foreign Ministry has an obligation to maintain good relations, not to
make trouble and spoil the relationship,” he told reporters, adding: “I
beg all parties not to create any misunderstanding between the two
countries.”
The ministry will provide equal assistance to all the
detained Thai nationals, he said, rejecting a report that only Panich
would be regarded as a priority case for obtaining bail, while the
others, notably Veera, would be left to their own devices as they had
provoked the arrests.
Veera and his group were briefly held in
the same area last August, but Border Police managed to release them
shortly after their capture.
The group believed the area where
they were walking last week belongs to Thailand, but has been occupied
by a Cambodian community since the late 1970s when many Cambodians fled
civil war to settle there. They later refused to move out after the end
of the war.
However, many Thai agencies, including the Foreign
Ministry and the Royal Thai Survey Department, have indicated that the
group walked at least 55 metres farther than that area – into territory
under Cambodian sovereignty.
A leaked video clip showed Panich
was apparently aware of the fact that he was walking into Cambodian
territory, as he was speaking on the phone with an unknown person and
requested that a message to that effect be conveyed to Abhisit.
The
clip and the information provided by agencies has dismayed many
yellow-shirt activists, as they insisted that the seven Thai nationals
had been arrested on Thai territory.
Yellow-shirt activist and
senator Kamnoon Sithisaman said areas near the disputed boundary
belonged to Thai people, as the Thai authorities had issued land titles
to them long ago. The area was indeed used as a shelter for Cambodian
refugees in 1975, but has not been returned to the rightful Thai owners
since, he said.
“I don’t know why Foreign Minister Kasit said the seven Thai people had invaded Cambodian territory,” he added.
Kamnoon
and his group of 40 senators yesterday inspected the area near Ban Nong
Chan and met some of the people who had lost their land to the
Cambodians.
He urged the prime minister to listen to local residents and help them solve the problem.
Separately,
another group of yellow-shirt activists yesterday rallied from Sa
Kaew’s Aranyaprathet district to see the disputed area in which their
comrades had been arrested.
Local authorities provided tight
security, fearing they would clash with residents in Non Mak Moon
subdistrict, who disagreed with their presence out of concern that it
could cause tension with Cambodia and make life difficult for them.
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