Home > Local News > Five Thais on trial in Cambodia over border case

Five Thais on trial in Cambodia over border case

Panich Vikitsreth is escorted by Cambodian police
PHNOM PENH: Five
Thais, including a ruling party politician, went on trial Friday on
charges of illegally entering Cambodia in a case that has strained
diplomatic ties between the two countries.

They were among seven
Thais arrested in Cambodia on December 29 for illegal entry and
trespassing on a military area, charges that carry a maximum combined
sentence of 18 months in prison.

Lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth of
the Democrat Party told the court he crossed the disputed border by
accident while inspecting contested territory.

“I had no intention at all to cross into Cambodian territory,” he said.

“I
received a request from Thai people to visit Thai land… I didn’t
expect to see the Cambodian People’s Party logo there (in the border
village).”

He added that the group was arrested some 15 minutes after entering the village.

It was unclear when a verdict would be announced.

The two other detainees – high-profile nationalist activist Veera Somkwamkid and his aide – did not appear in court.

They
face an additional espionage charge for attempting to gather
information that could affect national defence, an offence punishable
by up to 10 years in jail.

Veera is the only member of the group
who was not granted bail. The other six are understood to have been
staying at the Thai embassy since their release from a Phnom Penh
prison.

The neighbouring countries, long at odds over their
border, have both stressed they want to avoid a row over the issue,
although Cambodia rebuffed Thailand’s demand last month for the
detainees’ immediate release.

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

The
Thailand-Cambodia border has never been fully demarcated, partly
because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in
Cambodia.

– AFP/fa

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