Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Court date fixed for seven Thais in Cambodian border-crossing case

via CAAI

Jan 19, 2011

Phnom Penh - The deputy prosecutor of Phnom Penh's Municipal Court, Sok Roeun, said Wednesday that seven Thai nationals would be tried on February 1 on charges of crossing the border and illegally entering a military area.

Six members of the group have been released on bail and are believed to be staying at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh. The seventh, political activist Veera Somkwamkit, was refused bail Tuesday.

One of those bailed was parliamentarian Panich Vikitsreth of Thailand's ruling Democrat Party.

The seven, who were arrested on December 29, face jail terms of up to 18 months if convicted.

This month they told the court they had crossed the border accidentally.

During an earlier court hearing, Panich's lawyer said he had been visiting a border village 'to address the complaints of [Thai] villagers,' adding that the villagers had alleged that a border marker had been moved by Cambodians to encroach on Thai territory.

The court last week concluded its investigation into spying charges against Veera, a former leader of the nationalist People's Alliance for Democracy, a protest movement that shut down Bangkok's two airports for a week in 2008.

His secretary, Ratree Taiputana, was questioned along with him on spying charges, and the two face up to 10 years if convicted of that charge.

The Cambodian government has insisted the case would not affect relations between the two nations and said the judicial process needed to take its natural course.

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia have been tense for more than two years with sporadic clashes between troops over disputed territory surrounding the 11th-century Hindu temple of Preah Vihear on Cambodia's northern border.

The two countries are currently demarcating their border although talks have been stalled pending a repeatedly delayed vote in the Thai parliament to approve the latest round of negotiations.

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