Home > Local News > PM admits border tension has impacted case against Veera and Ratree

PM admits border tension has impacted case against Veera and Ratree

BANGKOK, Feb 19 — Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva admitted
that Thai Cambodian border tension has affected legal proceedings to
help two Thais jailed in Cambodia while affirming that the government
is still exploring ways to help free them.

The Cambodian court on Feb 1 ruled that Veera Somkwamkid, Thai Patriots
Network coordinator, and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon were
guilty of espionage, illegal entry, and trespassing in a military zone.
They were sentenced to an eight-year jail term and a 1.8 million riel
(US$450) fine for Mr Veera and a six-year jail term and a 1.2 million
riel (US$300) fine for Ms  Ratree. An appeal could be filed within 30
days.

Mr Abhisit said the government has to study options to help them and
that as far as he knows, the families of Veera and Ratree have not yet
submitted a request to seek a royal pardon from the Cambodian King. The
premier said he had told their two families to think carefully before
making a decision whether to appeal or request a royal pardon. The
border tensions had also affected the case, he added.

Asked whether the leaders of the two nations could hold talks to speed
up help for Veera and Ratree, Mr Abhisit said he would try, but the
situation should be evaluated carefully as the political situation in
Thailand and Cambodia was also affecting the case. He also urged the
Thai Patriots Network to think twice before making decisions on
movement, as it may have effect on Veera and Ratree. He said the
government would do its best to help but steps must be taken with
caution and good timing and not affect ties at the national level.

China’s Xinhua news agency quoted Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen as
saying that there would be no royal pardon for Mr Veera. “Don’t come to
persuade me to ask King Norodom Sihamoni for royal pardons. It is
impossible at this time,” said the Cambodian premier. He added,
“Complying with the law properly, the two must serve at least
two-thirds of their jail terms before being considered for royal
amnesty.”

Meanwhie, Mr Abhisit also denied reports that ASEAN was asked to send
forces to prevent more border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia. He
said Thailand reaffirmed its commitment to resolving any pending
boundary issues peacefully through existing bilateral mechanisms.

The prime minister added that he was unaware Cambodia might take the
disputed border case before the International Court of Justice for
clarification on its 1962 ruling. The Court then ruled that the 11th
century Preah Vihear temple belonged to Phnom Penh, but both countries
have since been in dispute over a 1.8-square-mile
(4.6-square-kilometre) tract of land near the temple. (MCOT online news)

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