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Thai FM to meet Veera in jail

Royal Cambodian Armed Forces soldiers travel in the back of a military
truck down National Road 5 toward the Cambodian-Thailand border in
Kampong Chhnang province’s Kampong Leng district on Tuesday. Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Siem Reap province

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya is set to meet tomorrow with two Thai
nationals convicted of espionage in Cambodia on Tuesday in a
high-profile case that has strained the fragile ties between the two

Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong
said today that Kasit planned to meet with Veera Somkwamkid, a
well-known activist within Thailand’s nationalist Yellow Shirt
movement, and his associate, Ratree Pipatanapaiboon.
Veera and
Ratree were convicted by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday of
espionage, illegal entry and unlawfully entering a military base after
being arrested in Banteay Meanchey province last month.
“[Kasit] will meet the Thai detainees at Prey Sar prison,” Koy Kuong said.
Veera and Ratree face jail terms of eight and six years respectively following their convictions on Tuesday.
were arrested along with five other Thais, including parliamentarian
Panich Vikitsreth, who were found guilty of illegal entry and
unlawfully entering a military base last month but were freed on
suspended sentences.
Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani
Thongphakdi said the convictions would likely be raised on the
sidelines of talks scheduled for tomorrow in Siem Reap between Kasit
and Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, though he added that the
next step in the case depended on Veera and Ratree.
“I think at
the moment they are consulting with their lawyers about lodging an
appeal, so it very much depends upon what they decide,” he said.
Vicheka, Veera’s lawyer, said he was preparing to challenge the
conviction before the Appeal Court, but needed to consult with his
client first.
The Bangkok Post reported that Thai Deputy
Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and National Security Council head
Thawil Pliensri traveled to Phnom Penh today, where they were expected
to meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen to “discuss the strained relations
between the two countries”.
Suthep reportedly said Thailand
“respects the verdict handed down by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court”
and does not want to provoke conflict with Cambodia.
Minister Khieu Kanharith said today that he did not “have the
authority” to discuss Suthep’s reported visit. Thani said he had no
information on the matter.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva
and members of his government have faced pressure to resolve Veera’s
case by Yellow Shirt protestors who have demonstrated in the Thai
capital this week.
Abhisit came to power in December 2008 following a wave of Yellow Shirt protests that shut down Bangkok’s main airport.
himself joined the protests, though the Abhisit administration has
since attempted to distance itself from hardline members of the
nationalist movement.
Troops stationed at the border near Preah
Vihear temple reported this week that both sides had received new
equipment and reinforcements as controversy erupted over Veera’s
conviction and Cambodia’s placement of a flag at Wat Keo Sekha
Kirisvara, a pagoda adjacent to Preah Vihear.
Yim Phim, commander
of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Brigade 43, said yesterday that the
buildup had yet to lead to conflict and that the situation at the
border was calm.
“We soldiers are on high alert because we don’t know what will happen next,” he said.
Phoeung, deputy chief of Preah Vihear province’s Kantuot commune in
Choam Ksan district, said villagers had taken precautions in the wake
of what he called the largest military buildup in the area in years.
villagers are prepared to defend themselves. They have dug out bunkers
to protect themselves in case war happens,” he said. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY THET SAMBATH AND JAMES O’TOOLE
Phnom Penh Post
Categories: Local News
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