Home > Local News > Cambodia grants bail to Thai lawmaker

Cambodia grants bail to Thai lawmaker

Panich Vikitsreth (R) is escorted by Cambodian
court security personnel upon his workout at Phnom Penh Municipal Court
in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
PHNOM PENH: A Thai
ruling party politician who was among seven Thais charged with
illegally entering Cambodia has been granted bail along with one other
member of the group, their lawyer said Thursday.

Panich
Vikitsreth of the Democrat Party and Narumol Jitrawarattana, described
as a female vendor, are now staying at the Thai embassy in the
Cambodian capital as they await their trial for which a date has yet to
be set.

“We asked the court to release the seven Thai people,
but the court only allowed two to be released on bail,” Ros Aun, a
Cambodian attorney for the group, told AFP. Each paid a bail of one
million riel ($250).

The other five Thai nationals are still
being held at a Phnom Penh prison, Ros Aun added, and Thai Prime
Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said his government would continue to push
for their release from jail.

The group was arrested on December
29 on charges of illegal entry and trespassing on a military area,
which carry a maximum combined sentence of 18 months in prison.

The case has strained diplomatic ties between the neighbouring countries, long at odds over their border.

Panich told the court last week that he had crossed the disputed border by accident.

“He
said he came (to the border area) because Thai people claimed it is
their land. He said he was walking without knowing that he was entering
Cambodian territory and was captured by the authorities,” Ros Aun said.

Two
of the seven Thais, Veera Somkwamkid – a former leader of the
nationalist “Yellow Shirt” movement – and his secretary, were slapped
with an additional charge of gathering information that could affect
national defence, a serious offence punishable by up to 10 years in
jail.

Thai officials have acknowledged that the seven were on Cambodian territory when arrested.

Despite
appeals from Thailand, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has refused to
intervene in the case, saying the matter was in the hands of the court.

The
Thailand-Cambodia border is not fully demarcated, partly because it is
littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

The
current crisis threatens to reverse a recent thaw in relations between
Hun Sen and Abhisit following a series of meetings on the sidelines of
international and regional summits late last year.

– AFP/fa

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