Home > Local News > Trespassing case ‘has no bearing’ on Cambodia border dispute

Trespassing case ‘has no bearing’ on Cambodia border dispute

Convicting
the seven Thai nationals for trespassing in Cambodia would not overrule
Thailand’s right to claim sovereignty over the disputed border area
near Sa Kaew’s Ban Nong Chan, where the men were caught, Prime Minister
Abhisit Vejjajiva and legal experts said yesterday. 

The Cambodian court’s ruling on the case would only be binding for
individuals who were involved in the case, but would never be a
reference point for boundary demarcation, he said.

Seven Thai
nationals, including an MP from the ruling Democrat Party, Panich
Vikitsreth, and yellow-shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid were arrested by
Cambodian officials last week while inspecting the disputed area.

In
his testimony, Panich told the Cambodian court that he had crossed the
border by accident.

Information from the Royal Thai Survey Department
and the Foreign Ministry indicates that the group had only gone 55
metres into Cambodian territory.

Veera and other activists
insist that this area belongs to Thailand because Thai authorities
issued land titles for local residents a long time ago. Veera and his
group were arrested at the same site last August.

The area in
question has been occupied by Cambodians who fled from civil war at
home in the late 1970s and refused to return after the war.

This
border location had been demarcated more than a century ago, when
Cambodia was a French colony, but the boundary pillars in the area were
destroyed or removed. The two countries have not yet reached common
ground as to exactly where the boundary pillars were.

Worry is growing in Thailand that Cambodia will take advantage of the case to claim sovereignty over the area.

Legal
expert Panas Tassaneeyanond, meanwhile, said the Cambodian court had
the authority to rule on each individual’s guilt in accordance with
Cambodian law but such a ruling had no binding on the boundary line
with Thailand.

“Legally speaking, the ruling is specifically bound to each individual in the case,” Panas said on a television programme.

Meanwhile,
secretary to the foreign minister Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said the
case should be kept separate from the boundary issue because the two
countries had a joint boundary committee to handle the dispute. The
Cambodian court’s ruling should have no legal implication on the
matter, he said.

The main argument in the case of the seven Thais
jailed in Phnom Penh is whether they entered Cambodian territory
unintentionally, he said.

Separately, Army chief Prayut Chan-ocha
responded to allegations that the military was too weak to deal with
Cambodia over the border dispute by saying that the issue should be
settled through negotiations and that it would take time.

“With
both sides claiming the same location, we cannot say who has lost it to
whom, but we do have to say that we need to live together peacefully
and with mutual respect,” he said.

“The military does not fear
anyone. We have the duty to protect our motherland. If it is clear that
it is our land, we will not allow any invasion, but while it is still
unclear, we will have to talk with our neighbours,” he said.

A
group of yellow-shirt activists met with officials at the Foreign
Ministry yesterday asking the ministry to help them pay a visit to
their colleagues in prison.

The court finished the first round
of testimony on Thursday and their lawyer will submit a bail request on
Monday. The court will then take five days to consider the request.

 the nation

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Categories: Local News
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