January 24, 2011
Recent verdict by a Cambodian court finding five Thais guilty of illegal entry into the neighboring country will have no implication on ongoing negotiations to settle border disputes between the two nations.
On a special televised program broadcast nationwide on Sunday's evening, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said: "There has been nowhere that the Thai government has said it will accept the Cambodian court's verdict on the border demarcation."
Abhisit said the verdict will only bind the individuals or parties involved in the court case.
He said any demarcation on the common border's disputed areas will have to be worked out under the existing memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in 2000 between Thailand and Cambodia.
Last Friday, five Thais, including Panich Vikitsreth, a Bangkok MP of Abhisit's Democrat Party, were found guilty by a court in Phnom Penh of illegal entry into Cambodia and trespassing into a military area.
Each was given nine months of imprisonment and fined one million riels (250 U.S. dollars), but the jail term is suspended.
The five returned to Bangkok on Saturday after spending almost a month in Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh.
Abhisit said the five Thais were arrested on Dec. 29 by Cambodian soldiers when they were on the Cambodian side of a line currently being used by both countries as the "working border line ".
But the Thai premier said the line was not the demarcation under the MOU, and that his government, which has been in contact with Phnom Penh since the arrest, had never told Cambodia that the Thais were on Cambodian territory when being arrested.
He said the Thai government will need to comply with the MOU's mechanism in settling the border disputes with Cambodia as there is no other framework to do so.
Two other Thais, also being arrested with the five on Dec. 29, are still being detained in Prey Sar prison for additional charges of espionage.
They include Veera Somkwamkid - a leader of the nationalistic Thailand Patriots Network, whose supporters have been protesting in Bangkok against the Abhisit government for its mishandling of the Thai-Cambodian border disputes.