Friday, December 31, 2010

Thai FM fails to free Thais detained in Cambodia

Dec 31, 2010
Source: MCOT Online news

BANGKOK, Dec 31 -- Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya failed to achieve the release of a Thai Democrat MP and six other people detained by Cambodian authorities for alleged trespass on the territory of the neighbouring country.

Mr Kasit made an urgent visit to Phnom Penh for talks with his counterpart, Hor Namhong, on securing the release of the seven on Thursday afternoon and returned empty-handed in the evening.

The Thai foreign Minister said upon returning from Phnom Penh that he tried to tell his Cambodian counterpart that the seven had strayed into the Cambodian territory during inspection of the border areas after receiving a petition from Thai villagers along the border.

Mr Kasit admitted to Hor Namhong that the seven Thai unintentionally crossed into the Cambodian area for 1,200 metres.

However, he failed to secure the release of the seven Thais who were charged by the Phnom Penn Municipal Court with illegal entry and illegally entering a military base along the border, crimes carrying penalties of up to six months and one year, respectively.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court decided to press ahead with charges against the Thais, and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong reportedly said after his meeting with Mr Kasit that he had said there would be "no release" of the Thais just yet.

"Let the court continue with the legal procedure as normal, the government cannot do anything," he said.

"We respect the judiciary of Cambodia. We have asked the government to complete the case as soon as possible as the charges were not severed crime,'' said Mr Kasit.

Reportedly having visited the seven Thais detained at Prey Sar prison on the outskirts of the Khmer capital, Mr Kasit vowed to give full assistance to them. Initially, the ministry has retained a lawyer for them.

Panich Vikitsreth of the ruling Democrat Party was arrested along with six others on Wednesday in Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province, along the western border with Thailand.

The seven detained Thais, including Democrat Party member of parliament Panich Vikitsreth and members of the so-called 'Yellow Shirt' Peoples Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protest movement, were apprehended by Cambodian troops on Wednesday while they inspected the border areas near Cambodian Banteay Meanchey province, not far from the western part of the border with Thailand. (MCOT online news)

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