Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mum of jailed 'Thai spy' pleads for him to be freed

Bangkok Post

PHNOM PENH : The mother of a jailed Thai engineer facing a spying charge has made an emotional appeal to the Cambodian government to free her son from prison.

I hope the Cambodian government will give justice and mercy to my son. I want him to have freedom as quickly as possible. - SIMARAK NA NAKHONPHANOM MOTHEROF DETAINED THAI ENGINEER

"I hope the Cambodian government will give justice and mercy to my son. I want him to have freedom as quickly as possible," Simarak na Nakhon Phanom said yesterday, holding back tears.

She made the appeal after a one-hour meeting with her son Sivarak Chutipong at Prey Sar prison on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. It was the first time they had met since the Cambodian Air Traffic Services official was arrested by Cambodian authorities on Nov 12.

Her youngest son Pongsiri Chutipong accompanied her to the meeting.

"We, three people, could not hold back our tears. We cried when we met and hugged together," she said.

Mrs Simarak said her son was still in good spirits and was treated well by prison warders.

"He did not complain about anything in his life at the prison. He only said he's still waiting for his release as quickly as possible," Mrs Simarak quoted her son as saying.

"I beg both the Thai and Cambodian governments to help my son, please," she said, bowed her head, and made a wai.

Mrs Simarak said she was extremely happy and felt relieved to know that her son was still healthy.

Simarak na Nakhon Phanom (above left) holds back tears as she appealed yesterday for the release of her son, Sivarak Chutipong, who is being detained on spying charges at Prey Sar prison (above) in Phnom Penh. PHOTOS BY TAWATCHAI KEMGUMNERD

Mr Sivarak, who has worked in Phnom Penh for eight years, was charged with supplying classified information on fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's return flight from Phnom Penh to Dubai to a Thai diplomat.

Mr Sivarak and the Foreign Ministry have denied the charge.

Mrs Simarak protested her son's innocence, saying "I believe my son never did this wrong thing nor caused trouble for others."

The Cambodian court will begin the first hearing into Mr Sivarak's case on Dec 8. His Cambodian lawyer Kao Soupha filed a bail request last Monday but the court has yet to make a decision.

Mrs Simarak returned to Bangkok yesterday but will go back to Phnom Penh on Dec 8 to attend the first hearing.

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia have been strained since Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen appointed Thaksin as an economic adviser to his government and criticised the Thai judicial system over Thaksin's legal cases.

The two countries have downgraded diplomatic relations. Thailand has also scrapped a memorandum of understanding on attempts to define their overlapping territorial waters and jointly explore gas and oil in the Gulf of Thailand, and has frozen a 1.4 billion baht loan to upgrade a road from Surin province to the Cambodian province of Seam Reap. The termination of the MoU still needs parliamentary approval.

Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday the Cambodian government had told Thailand it was cancelling the loan.

Cambodia did not need the loan and could afford to build the road on its own, he said.

Former foreign minister Surakiart Sathirathai on Thursday urged the government to start talking with Phnom Penh to get relations back to normal.

But Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya rejected the suggestion yesterday and insisted on the Thai position that attempts to normalise ties must come from Cambodia.

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