Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Noppadon faces temple charge

Noppadon: Backed heritage listing
Published: 22/09/2009

The national anti-graft agency has accused former foreign minister Noppadon Pattama of negligence of duty over his signing of a joint communique with Cambodia concerning the Preah Vihear temple, a source at the agency says.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission ruling will be announced today based on a 130-page report.

The investigation of the signing covered 35 other people including four cabinet members in the present government and government officials, including some from the Foreign Ministry.

The ministers involved are Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti, Information and Communications Minister Ranongruk Suwunchwee and Deputy Finance Minister Pradit Phataraprasit. The four served in the Samak administration.

Only Mr Noppadon is to be indicted, the source said.

The investigators did not find enough grounds to take action against the others as they were not aware of what the then foreign minister was doing, the source said. Their cases could be rejected if the NACC submitted them to the court.

The anti-graft agency found Mr Noppadon was negligent in his duties under Article 157 of the Criminal Code, the source said.

Mr Noppadon signed the joint communique with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An on June 18 last year to support Cambodia's application to declare the temple a World Heritage site. Mr Noppadon's mandate was endorsed by the government a day earlier.

But Thailand backed off from its position after the Constitution Court ruled it unconstitutional as it had bypassed parliamentary approval as required under the constitution. Mr Noppadon later resigned.

NACC member Somluck Jadkrabuanpol, chairman of the investigating panel, denied the NACC had been pressured to rule against the Samak government.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban has asked police to take action against those who instigated the unrest that led to Saturday's fierce clash between the People's Alliance for Democracy and Si Sa Ket residents near the border with Cambodia.

The PAD supporters staged a protest on Saturday near the border in Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket to call for the authorities to force Cambodians from the disputed area near Preah Vihear. They confronted a group of local residents who blocked the protest. The clash between PAD protesters and the villagers left scores of people on both sides injured.
Mr Suthep said those who violated the law must face legal action.

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon expressed regret over Saturday's clash between the two groups of Thai citizens.

Gen Prawit said he had instructed 2nd Army chief Wiboonsak Neepal to closely coordinate with local police and the provincial governor to prevent a recurrence.

He insisted Cambodia understood the situation as Thai and Cambodian commanders remained in contact.

Both PAD and Si Sa Ket residents yesterday filed complaints against each other with local police over Saturday's clash.

Pol Maj Gen Sompong Thongveeraprasert, chief of the Si Sa Ket police, said more than 30 complaints were filed by the two groups.

Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul dismissed reports a group of men dressed in blue shirts had stirred up local residents to confront the PAD demonstrators. The blue shirts are supporters of Newin Chidchob, the power broker behind Mr Chavarat's Bhumjaithai Party.

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