Dec 30, 2010
The reporters welcome MP and six other Thai in front of Phnom Penh Court in 30 Dec, 2010. (Photo: Quoc Viet/RFA)
Phnom Penh - A Thai parliamentarian and six other Thai nationals were questioned by a Cambodian court on Thursday after being arrested along the border for alleged trespassing.
Panich Vikitsreth of the ruling Democrat Party was arrested along with six others on Wednesday in Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province, near the western part of the border with
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said late Wednesday that the case would proceed quickly, adding that he had rebuffed requests from Thai officials to intervene.
'I think Prime Minister Abhisit (Vejjajiva) will understand Cambodian legal procedure, which no one can abuse,' Hun Sen said, adding that the group 'will face legal punishment, because Thai lawmakers cannot use their parliamentary immunity in Cambodia.'
A senior Cambodian official said the group was being held for 'trespassing under immigration law.'
'They intruded into Cambodia,' the official said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to speak on the matter.
The court hearing on Thursday was closed to reporters, though it was attended by the Thai ambassador to Phnom Penh, Prasas Prasavinitchai.
Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya was scheduled to meet with his counterpart Hor Namhong in the Cambodian capital later Thursday.
Panich, an assistant to Kasit before he won a by-election last month, was inspecting the border region after villagers complained that Cambodian soldiers were occupying the area.
Relations between Thailand and Cambodia have been tense for more than two years with sporadic clashes between troops over disputed territory surrounding a border temple around 200 kilometres east of Banteay Meanchey.
The 11th-century Hindu temple, known as Preah Vihear in Cambodia and Phra Viharn in Thailand, belongs to Cambodia under a 1962 ruling by the International Court of Justice. But jurisdiction of 4.6 square kilometres of adjacent land is still in dispute.
The two countries are currently demarcating their border, though talks have been stalled pending a repeatedly delayed vote in the Thai parliament to approve the latest round of negotiations.