By The Nation
Published on January 29, 2011
A team of lawyers for the Thai Patriots Network went to the border area in Sa Kaew province yesterday to collect information for the defence of two Thai nationals facing trespassing and spying charges in Cambodia.
The eight-member group, led by Thammasat University researcher and TPN leader Walwipha Charoonroj, inspected the area in Ban Nong Chan of Sa Kaew's Khok Sung district where seven Thais were arrested by Cambodian authorities in December.
The legal team was guided by members of the Burapha Force's special taskforce in an operation led by deputy commander Lt-Colonel Apiram Ramanat.
Walwipha said the team had submitted a written request with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and had sought permission from Cambodian authorities to inspect the area. She said the information and facts obtained would be used to defend TPN leader Veera Somkwamkid and Ratri Pipattanapaiboon in court, which has scheduled the first hearing for Tuesday. The two face the additional charge of espionage.
The five other Thais who were arrested for trespassing, including Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth, recently returned home after being sentenced to a suspended jail term in Cambodia.
The TPN is part of the yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy, which is rallying outside Government House to demand decisive action about the border conflict with Cambodia.
Before Walwipha's group arrived, Ban Nong Chan residents expressed dissatisfaction for fear the yellow shirts would stage a protest, which would further complicate the situation in the border area. However, they did not show much opposition after being told by the taskforce that the lawyers' group would be small and that they were only visiting to collect information.
In a related development, Cambodian forces stationed at the border area near the Preah Vihear temple are in two minds about bringing down the Cambodian flag raised at another temple in the disputed area, a security source said yesterday.
Cambodian military commanders General Chea Dara and Maj-General Srey Doek agree with Thailand's demand that the flag raised at Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvara be taken down, while other commanders disagreed, the source said.
Hundreds of Cambodian troops - stationed since the controversy over a stone tablet in which Thai troops were called "intruders" and the disputed area marked as "Here is Cambodia" - are still in place along with heavy weaponry and some 30 tanks.
The source described the border situation as being tense, though no serious incidents have taken place.