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‘Invaders’ jibe as Thais come home


The 2nd Army chief has demanded Cambodian troops remove a stone tablet
in the disputed border area bearing a message lambasting Thai troops as

HOME AT LAST: Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth (centre) and Samdin
Lertbutr (left) arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport yesterday. They, with
Narumol Chitwaratana, Tainae Mungmajon and Kojpollathorn Chusanasevi,
returned to Thailand after the Phnom Penh Municipal Court gave them a
suspended jail term for trespassing on Cambodian territory and illegal
entry into a military area.

The latest controversy in the Thai-Cambodian territorial dispute
came as Bangkok yesterday welcomed back the five Thais allowed home by
a Phnom Penh court after being found guilty of charges related to
illegally crossing the border.
Lt Gen Thawatchai Samutsakhon said he had contacted Cambodian troops
to remove the stone tablet, bearing the message “Thai troops _ the
Invaders” written in Khmer, erected in front of Wat Kaew Sikha Khiri
The temple, situated 300m away from Preah Vihear, is in the disputed 4.6-square-kilometre area claimed by both countries.
Lt Gen Thawatchai said the two countries have agreed not to build or erect anything that is indicative of ownership of the land.
“This stone tablet will have significant implications if it is used
as evidence in cases involving territorial disputes in the
International Court of Justice,” Lt Gen Thawatchai said.
FIGHTING WORDS: A stone tablet with a message in Khmer branding Thai troops ‘invaders’ at Wat Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara.

“We cannot accept this. I have told them to take it down.
“If they don’t take it down, I may have a sign with a similar message erected.”
Cambodia put the stone tablet up after Thai troops withdrew from Wat Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara on Dec 1.
Army specialist Kanok Nettarakawesana is named on the tablet as one of the “invaders”.
At the time, Lt Gen Kanok was commander of the Suranaree task force
and led about 200 Thai soldiers to enter the wat to hold talks with
Cambodian authorities regarding the release of three Thais detained in
the disputed area on July 15, 2008.
The three were members of the ultra-nationalist Dharmayatra group,
which camped out on the Thai border in Si Sa Ket’s Kantharalak district
to protest Thailand’s support of Phnom Penh’s listing of the temple as
a Unesco World Heritage site. They were freed after four hours of
Lt Gen Kanok said he decided to lead the soldiers into Wat Kaew
Sikha Khiri Sawara to stop Cambodian soldiers from taking the three
Thais to Ban Komui on the Cambodian side.
Lt Gen Kanok insisted that the wat is located in the overlapping area and Thai soldiers have the authority to enter the temple.
“It was the first time that we had reached there. In the past, Thai
soldiers never entered the area but I stood by our 1:50000 map which
indicates the area is ours,” he said.
Lt Gen Kanok shrugged off the name-calling by Cambodian soldiers.
He said he led the troops to enter the temple to assert the country’s sovereignty over the disputed area.
He declined to comment on whether Thailand was at a disadvantage after the country withdrew its troops from the temple.
“You need to ask the people responsible for the issue,” he said.
Meanwhile, the five Thais released from Phnom Penh arrived at
Suvarnabhumi airport yesterday evening. They appeared exhausted and
declined to comment.
On Friday, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court found each of the five
Thais – Panich Vikitsreth, Narumol Chitwaratana, Samdin Lertbutr,
Tainae Mungmajon, and Kojpollathorn Chusanasevi – guilty of two counts
of trespassing onto Cambodian territory and illegal entry into a
military area.
The judges sentenced each of them to nine months in jail and a fine of 1 million riel (7,520 baht), but suspended the terms.
Bangkok Post
Categories: Local News
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