BANGKOK, March 10 - The Thai embassy in Phnom Penh will ask two Thai Patriots Network activists convicted and detained for espionage to endorse the letters seeking royal pardon for them from the Cambodian monarch on Friday, the secretary to the Thai foreign minister said today.
Chavanond Intarakomalayasut, secretary to the Thai foreign minister, disclosed the information after the mother of Veera Somkwamkid met with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Wednesday seeking the government’s help to secure the release of her son. She said Mr Veera was "seriously ill" while serving jail sentence in Preysar Prison as he has not been given appropriate medical treatment and nutrition.
Mr Veera and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon were convicted by a Cambodian court on Feb 1 for espionage, illegal entry, and trespassing in a military zone. The 53-year-old activist was sentenced to an eight-year jail term while Ms Ratree was handed a six-year jail term.
Mr Chavanond said the lawyers of Mr Veera and Ms Ratree have finished drafting the royal pardon documents in the Cambodian language and forwarded them to the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh for translation into Thai.
Embassy officials will bring the letters to the two detainees on Friday so that they could read the details and endorse the papers.
The embassy would be able to send the royal pardon letters to the Cambodian foreign ministry within next week, said Mr Chavanond, adding that the Cambodian ministry will have to forward the letters to the Justice Ministry and then the Cambodia's Office of the Prime Minister.
Following recommendations regarding a prisoner exchange, the secretary stated the foreign ministry already considered that approach but later learned that such transfers do not cover national security cases and that both Mr Veera and Ms Ratree must first serve at least one-third of their jail time.
"Moreover, with the prisoner exchange, they would also have to [continue] imprisonment in Thailand," said Mr Chavanond. "So the ministry advised them to seek a royal pardon, an option which can proceed immediately. The two detainees agreed with the idea and have signed documents expressing their will to use such as approach."
Mr Chavanond added that he will visit Phnom Penh seeking to take Mr Veera from jail for medical treatment and is now awaiting a reply from the Cambodian authorities whether they will allow him to visit the convicts.
The prime minister asserted Thursday that Mr Veera's health problem is a cause of concern for his government, and that seeking a royal pardon is the better option to help them. (MCOT online news)