Feb 1, 2011
PHNOM PENH - A CAMBODIAN court on Tuesday sentenced a high-profile Thai nationalist activist to eight years in prison on spying and illegal entry charges in a case that has rekindled border tensions.
Veera Somkwamkid - a former leader of the 'Yellow Shirt' movement - and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaibul were found guilty on charges of illegal entry into Cambodia, trespassing on a military area and attempting to gather information that could affect national defence.
The judge at Phnom Penh Municipal Court handed Ratree a six-year jail term. The charges carried a maximum combined sentence of 11 years and six months.
Veera, dressed in a blue prison uniform, denied being on Cambodian soil when he was arrested. 'I was walking on Thai territory,' he told the court through a translator. 'I had no intention to invade Cambodian territory.'
Veera and Ratree were also fined 1.8 million riel (S$568) and 1.2 million riel respectively.
The pair were among seven Thais arrested in Cambodia on Dec 29 while they were inspecting disputed border territory. The other five members of the group - including a ruling party politician - received suspended sentences for illegal entry on Jan 21 and have since returned to Thailand. -- AFP