By THE NATION ON SUNDAY
Published on January 30, 2011
Lawyers from the Thailand Patriots Network will ask a Cambodian court to postpone the reading of a verdict from this Tuesday in the case against two Thais charged with trespassing and espionage.
They said they had not collected sufficient information and proof to be presented to the court in order to defend Veera Somkwamkid and Ratri Pipattanapaiboon.
TPN legal adviser Wanwipa Charoonroj said the group's lawyers were unable to survey the border area where Cambodian soldiers arrested the two and five other Thais on December 29. Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban had not granted permission for a survey of the area despite Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva ordering state agencies to help facilitate the lawyers' travel to the disputed border area.
Suthep acted as caretaker prime minister while Abhisit was attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
TPN legal adviser ML Tossapol Kaewtima said the group was deeply disappointed with Suthep. Since they could not find evidence to help with the case, the network would request the Cambodian court give them more time to find evidence and postpone its verdict on the two, who are charged with trespassing and espionage. They will also request bail for the two.
Tossapol said the TPN also planned to step up pressure on the government to meet their demands over disputes with Phnom Penh. The group would follow up on complaints submitted at various agencies and step up their campaign against the government.
In Davos, the prime minister told The Associated Press that protesters demanding the government revoke its pact with Cambodia over a border dispute had a right to make their demands, but he would do what was best for the country.
"We feel that the way we approach the border problems, and the problems — as far as the relationship with Cambodia is concerned — is best for the country, which is that we try to resolve whatever issues come up in a peaceful manner."
He stressed the importance of dealing with the issue peacefully. "So that we preserve good relations — we are both part of Asean — and at the same time we make sure that we protect Thai interests," he said. "So all we can do is to explain to them that we feel that this is the best approach and I am confident that the majority of Thai people support" the government.
Human Rights Commissioner Parinya Sirisarakarn said he would attend the court hearing of Veera and Ratri and would ask Veera about conditions of his detention to ensure his basic rights.
Meanwhile, Suthep threatened legal action yesterday against the People's Alliance for Democracy if they continue their protest by blocking roads and causing inconvenience to the public.
Suthep said he would wait for two to three days and decide - if there were not many protesters but the PAD blocked several roads causing traffic congestion, the government would definitely file a suit against them. He said there were only a few hundreds protesters during the day and about 2,000 protesters at night but the PAD blocked not one but several routes.
He urged the protesters to get on one side of the road to make way for motorists. He said blocking Rajdamnoen Klang Road, which the royal family uses, was totally inappropriate.
Responding to demands for the government to remove a Cambodian flag on a Thai temple near the Thai-Cambodian border, Suthep said the government would solve the problem through diplomatic means. "We have to take it easy. When you have neighbours, you should not threaten them too much. I believe Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has probably been attacked by the media and his people over the PAD's threat,'' he said.
"I would like to send this message to PM Hun Sen that whatever the protesters said had nothing to do with the government. Both sides have to be patient and find solutions to the problems,'' he said.
Democrat Party MP for Bangkok Panich Vikitsreth said he negotiated with the PAD not to stop their protest but to explain the government's stand so that both sides understand each other better.
He said key leaders of the PAD's sub groups had a tendency to understand the government's point of view and there was only one group that had a different view of the government.
Responding to a threat by Chaiwat Sinsuwong, a leader of the Thailand Patriots Network, to team up with the red shirts to oust the government, Panich said no government wanted to lose territory but pushing Cambodians off Thai soil was something that had to be done without confrontation.
"I admit that I crossed the military operation line to the disputed area. We will know the answer [whether it is Thai or Cambodian soil] when we complete border demarcation,'' he said.
PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan said the fact PM Abhisit knew about the Cambodian flag being hoisted at the Thai temple for two days but failed to remove it showed his government was incompetent.
Cambodia has refused to remove the flag, claiming the area belongs to Cambodia according to the 1:200,000 square kilometre map.
He said the PM and his deputy must take responsibility if it accepts the Cambodian verdict on the case of the seven Thais since they were arrested on Thai soil.