Home > Local News > PM: arrest of 7 Thais by Cambodian authorities won’t make Thailand lose territory

PM: arrest of 7 Thais by Cambodian authorities won’t make Thailand lose territory

BANGKOK, Jan 7 – Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Friday
reaffirmed that the arrest of seven Thai nationals by Cambodian
authorities has nothing to do with the possible loss of Thai territory
to the neighbouring kingdom, while calling all parties to focus on
helping the detainees first.

The Thai premier made remarks after the yellow-shirted People’s
Alliance for Democracy (PAD) movement claimed Thailand may lose some of
its territory to Cambodia if it accepts the Cambodian court ruling on
the case of seven detainees.

Mr Abhisit stated that the court ruling will affect only the litigants
and it’s considered an individual issue, on a case by case basis, not
as part of the border problems.

“If so, we can arrest a foreigner and then the defendant confesses, it
means his country will lose territory?” noted Mr Abhisit. “We must wait
and see the court verdict first. The matter will not be prolonged.”

The Thai premier advised the critics to let concerned officials do
their jobs. “We won’t talk about legal aspects which can bring more
damage,” he said.

Following opposition Puea Thai accusations that the premier conspired
with the actions of detained Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth, Mr Abhisit
affirmed he had assigned Mr Panich to respond to the complaints of
local residents at the border, but he asserted that the incident
occurred unexpectedly.

Mr Panich said as he was arrested by Cambodian soldiers that he was
inspecting the dispute land as local residents along the Thai-Cambodian
border earlier filed complaints that their paddle fields which have
title deeds issued by Thai authorities have now been occupied by
Cambodia and the Cambodian troops prohibited them to enter their
ownland.

The prime minister also warned the PAD not to mix up the issue of Preah
Vihear dispute with the detention of the seven Thais and that the
movement should give full and completed information to the public.

“First thing to do now is to help the seven people as they are Thais
and they did not intend to trespass into Cambodian territory or spy on
information there. The exaggerated charge should not be taken against
them,” insisted the premier. “Other issues should be discussed later.”

The seven, including Democrat MP for Bangkok Panich and Thai Patriots
Network leader Veera Somkwamkid, were arrested by Cambodian soldiers as
they inspected the border area Dec 29.

The Cambodian court finished the first hearing on Thursday. They were
facing two charges — one of illegal entry into the Cambodian kingdom,
with assigned punishment of three to six months of imprisonment and
deportation, while the second charge involved trespass into a Cambodian
military area without permission, punishable by a three to six months
jail term and Bt7,500-15,000 in fines.

Meanwhile, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Suwit
Khunkitti asserted Friday that the arrest of the seven Thais is a
different matter to the consideration of the Preah Vihear temple as a
World Heritage site.

Mr Suwit said the two issues have no impact on each other and that for
the Preah Vihear dispute, the border demarcation should be clarified
first.

“The foreign ministry is coordinating for the meeting with Cambodia’s
deputy prime minister Sok An. If the meeting is scheduled, we will
conclude the dispute together,” said Mr Suwit.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that the Preah Vihear temple belonged to
Cambodia, although its primary entrance lies in Thailand and the exact
boundary through the surrounding grounds remains in dispute, with
occasional military skirmishes claiming a number of lives.

On July 7, 2008, UNESCO listed Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage
site. Under the terms of the listing, Cambodia is required to submit a
management plan to the World Heritage Committee for its approval but
its plan was opposed by Thailand in the committee meeting last year in
Brazil and was scheduled to be raised in June at its meeting in
Bahrain. (MCOT online news)

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