Sunday, 20 December 2009

Thaksin supporters flock to Cambodia

Published: 20/12/2009

(CAAI News Media)

SA KAEO : About 200 Puea Thai Party members and supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra were on their way to Phnom Penh yesterday to meet the fugitive former prime minister.

Thaksin supporters, mainly from Bangkok, Rayong and other central provinces, were seen crossing the border checkpoint at Aranyaprathet district in the province. They boarded buses and vans waiting for them at Poipet, the Cambodian border town, to take them to the Cambodian capital.

About 30 of them complained that Thai authorities attempted to block them from entering Cambodia. But Pol Col Charn Wongwaimethee of the Burapha Task Force denied authorities tried to disrupt their travel plans.

About 30 people did not carry passports so they could not be allowed to leave Thai territory, he said.

Thaksin returned to Cambodia on Dec 13 to smooth the return to Thailand of Sivarak Chutipong, the Thai engineer from the Cambodia Air Traffic Services who was convicted of spying charges.

Mr Sivarak was granted a pardon on Dec 12 and returned to Bangkok last Monday.

Thaksin was appointed an adviser to Phnom Penh in October. This was his second visit since being handed the advisory role.

The Cambodian government cited close relations with Thaksin as a reason to exempt Mr Sivarak from his seven-year jail term. Relations with Cambodia plunged in October after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen appointed Thaksin as his adviser, rejected a Thai call to extradite him to serve a jail term in Thailand, and criticised the judicial process in the Thaksin case.

The former prime minister was sentenced in absentia in October last year for abusing his authority in the Ratchadaphisek land deal by aiding his ex-wife Khunying Potjaman. More cases against him are pending.

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