Thursday, 3 March 2011

Jailed Thais won't appeal verdict

via CAAI

Published on March 3, 2011

The two Thai nationalists jailed in Cambodia on espionage charges have had a change of heart and will not contest their convictions, their attorney said on the last day for appeal yesterday.

"They decided days ago not to file an appeal against the verdict," an official at the office of Ros Aun, the attorney, told The Nation via telephone. "The case is final."

Activists Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipatanapaiboon were sentenced by the Phnom Penh Capital Court of First Instance on February 1 to eight and six years imprisonment respectively.

They had 30 days to file an appeal.

They were arrested along with five other Thais, including Democrat lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth, on December 29 while inspecting a disputed border area near Sa Kaew's Ban Nong Chan village.

Veera had initially vowed to keep on fighting for justice on grounds that Cambodia had no authority to try him and he had been arrested on Thai territory.

Panich said relatives of his clients have submitted a request for a royal pardon.

"The royal pardon is the only channel now to free them," he said.

Veera should be released as soon as possible as he was not in good health, he said.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had said earlier that the activists could not seek a royal pardon until they had served two-thirds of their terms.

However the case was still mired in confusion yesterday as the colleagues of the two from the Thai Patriot Network (TPN) said they would file an appeal.

TPN's Karun Saingam said he just returned from Cambodia and learned that Veera and Ratree would lodge an appeal to carry on their struggle in court. The pair would never ask for a pardon from the Cambodian king, he said, but noted that he did not actually meet the two detainees during his visit to Phnom Penh.

The TPN has been camping out near Government House for more than two months to protest the government's stance in the conflict with Cambodia. They want the government to put pressure on the other side to free the activists, rather than allow the Cambodian court to judge them.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Karun was not authorised to make an appeal for the two activists.

"If any party really cared about Veera and Ratree's fate, we should respect their decision," he said.

Thailand and Cambodia have been at loggerheads over their boundary for a long time. Border skirmishes near Preah Vihear Temple erupted early February claiming some 10 lives, including those of three civilians on both sides.

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