Photo by: AFP
Thai nationalist Yellow Shirts rally outside Government House in Bangkok on Tuesday.
Thursday, 27 January 2011 20:53 Cheang Sokha
A group of Thai Yellow Shirt activists will travel to Phnom Penh on Monday for talks with government spokesman and Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith, a day ahead of the trial of a key Yellow Shirt figure.
Activist Veera Somkwamkid and his secretary, Ratree Taiputana Taiboon, are set to stand trial at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday in a high-profile case that has strained diplomatic ties.
“I’m not sure about the purpose of Mr Veera’s representatives requesting a meeting with me,” Khieu Kanharith said today.
“Maybe they want to understand the Cambodian government’s stance on the issue.”
The two were part of a group of seven Thais – including Panich Vikitsreth, a lawmaker from the country’s ruling Democrat Party – who were arrested by Cambodian soldiers in Banteay Meanchey’s O’Chrou district.
All seven were charged with illegal entry and unlawfully entering a military base.
On January 21, five of the Thais were convicted on the charges and released after their nine-month jail sentences were suspended, bringing the case one step closer to a conclusion.
Next week, Veera and his secretary will be tried on those charges, as well as an espionage charge which carries a punishment of up to 10 years in jail.
Also today, the Thailand Patriot Network, a nationalist splinter group, submitted a request to the Thai government requesting that it help extradite Veera from Cambodia.
The letter was submitted by Sunthorn Rakrong, a TPN coordinator, through Kiatfa Laohapornsawan, a vice minister attached to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s Office, the Bangkok Post reported.
“Concerning the extradition of Mr Veera, we have to wait the court’s verdict,” Khieu Kanharith said.
“If the spying issue is involved the extradition will be more complicated.”
Koy Kuong, spokesman for Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Bangkok has already pledged to respect the ruling of the Cambodian court, adding that Cambodia has not yet received any request from Thailand to extradite Veera.
“We work government to government, but the request for the extradition was made in Thailand so we don’t have a headache with them,” Koy Kuong said.
“We cannot make any comment on what has not happened.”
Yellow Shirt protesters have rallied in central Bangkok this week in a bid to push the Abhisit government to take a stronger stance in border disputes with Cambodia.