Sunday, 23 January 2011

5 Thais convicted of illegal entry in Cambodia return to Thailand+

via CAAI

BANGKOK, Jan. 22 (AP) - (Kyodo)—Five Thais who were convicted Friday of having entered Cambodia illegally, arrived at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport on Saturday after being expelled from Cambodia.

Two other Thai nationals who entered Cambodia with them are still in Phnom Penh awaiting trial on illegal entry and espionage.

The five who returned to Bangkok, including Thai Democrat Party lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth, told the press their colleagues still in Cambodia remain "strong."

Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, secretary to the Thai foreign minister, said the Thai government would do its best to help activists Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, the two who remain in Cambodia.

Chavanond added the Thai and Cambodian governments have discussed the cases and final disposition of the cases is expected soon.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters he will explain his position on all the cases during his weekly national television program, adding he hopes the two pending cases are resolved quickly.

The court in Phnom Penh sentenced the five Thais now in Bangkok to nine months in jail for illegal entry, then suspended their sentences. They were also fined 1 million riel each (about $250).

The seven Thai nationals -- Panich and six activists of the People's Alliance of Democrats -- crossed the border between Thailand's Sa Kaeo Province and Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey Province on Dec. 29 and were detained by Cambodian soldiers.

The alliance rejects Cambodia's demarcation of the border in the area.

They were charged Dec. 30 with entering Cambodia illegally and with unlawful trespass in a Cambodian military zone.

Six of them, including the five who returned to Thailand on Saturday, were granted bail and were housed at the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh until their trials.

But Veera, secretary general of the People's Network Against Corruption and an activist in the Thailand Patriot Network, has been detained in custody since his arrest.

He and his secretary Ratree are charged with of espionage, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, in addition to illegal entry and trespass.

The Phnom Penh court has set Feb. 1 for their trial.

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