Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Cambodian court bails four Thais in border case

Thai 'Yellow Shirt' activist Veera Somkwamkid (C) is escorted by Cambodian police at the Appeals Court in Phnom Penh


via CAAI

PHNOM PENH — Four Thais charged with illegally entering Cambodia were released on bail Tuesday but a fifth -- a high-profile nationalist activist -- was ordered to remain in detention, a prosecutor said.

The five were among seven Thais arrested in Cambodia on December 29 for illegal entry and trespassing on a military area, charges that carry a maximum combined sentence of 18 months in prison.

Two of the group -- including lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth of the ruling Democrat Party -- were already bailed last Thursday for health reasons.

Panich has said that he and his entourage crossed the disputed border by accident while inspecting contested territory.

Veera Somkwamkid -- a former leader of the "Yellow Shirt" movement -- faces an additional espionage charge for attempting to gather information that could affect national defence, an offence punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

"Only Veera Somkwamkid is kept in jail. The four others are released on bail," Ngeth Sarath, a prosecutor at the Appeal Court, told AFP after a closed-door hearing in which the five Thais appealed their earlier bail denial.

The four were released on bail of one million riel ($250) each.

It is believed that the six Thais who have been bailed will stay at the Thai embassy compound in Phnom Penh as they await trial, for which a date has yet to be set.

The neighbouring countries, long at odds over their border, have both said they would not let the border case strain diplomatic ties.

Thai officials have acknowledged that the seven were on Cambodian territory when arrested.

The Thailand-Cambodia border has never been fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

Cambodia bridge stampede disaster

via CAAI

17 january, 2011


19 year old Chea Channy is still coming to terms with her experience of one of Cambodia's worst ever disasters - a stampede on a crowded bridge which killed over 350 people, including her father.

The deadly incident happened two months ago, during Cambodia's annual Water Festival which attracts more than a million visitors to the capital Phnom Penh.

The stampede happened on a bridge leading to Koh Pich or Diamond Island - a new venue at the festival.

Channy was on the overcrowded bridge with her father and brother when panic broke out.

Hundreds of people, including Channy's father, died as a result of the stampede.

The country's Prime Minister Hun Sen described the disaster as the "biggest tragedy" to hit Cambodia since the mass killings carried out by the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s.

Channy spoke to the BBC's Guy De Launey in Cambodia and described how she came to be on the bridge that night.

Phuket yellow shirts in wild show of patriotism over Cambodia


via CAAI

PHUKET: About 30 local yellow-shirt activists yesterday put on a show in the center of Phuket Town mocking the Thai government’s handling of the recent arrest and trial of seven Thais by the Cambodian authorities.

The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) members also denounced Cambodian premier Hun Sen, claiming the Thais were arrested on land that belongs to Thailand.

The performance took place at Surin “Clocktower” Circle from 4pm and attracted interest from many passers-by who pulled over to see what was going on.

Led by Phuket PAD leaders Aparat Chartchutikumjorn and Krit Thepbamrung, the group started their activities with a satirical play.

The first part of the performance showed Thai Defense Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan giving away Thai land to Hun Sen.

The group then performed a ceremony cursing the Cambodian PM for alleged crimes against Thai people and the country.

The bizarre ritual involved writing Hun Sen’s name on a chicken egg and throwing it into a paper box. The group stamped their feet, shouting, “Hun Sen must go to hell! Thailand must win!”

The group also distributed leaflets claiming Thailand was about to lose territory to Cambodia. They read a statement criticizing Hun Sen’s behavior and the Thai government’s handling of the issue.

The statement said that PAD members had been following the situation closely since the group’s arrest on December 29.

The statement claimed that Cambodian soldiers had arrested the Thais on Thai territory, in violation of treaties between the two countries.

It said the Cambodian authorities had violated the group’s human rights and that the Cambodian court process was not being carried out according to international standards.

It accused the Cambodians of breaking international law, violating Thai sovereignty and showing heavy contempt for Thai nationhood.

The statement also attacked the Thai government, singling out Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and Defense Minister Gen Prawit for criticism.

It also said government officials in charge of the border issue had been neglectful and weak in their diplomatic dealings with the Cambodian side.

Thailand should be using its power to pressure the Cambodians into releasing the seven. In both its handling of the arrests and the border issue in general, the government had played second-best to Cambodia, it said.

The statement called for the government to change its position and help the group return to Thailand safely. It also called on the government to take the border issue seriously in order to “defend the Kingdom’s honor”.

Desperately seeking a sense of balance


via CAAI

Published: 18/01/2011

The media has been a factor in Thai-Cambodian relations since they became strained in 2008 when the dispute over the Preah Vihear temple resurfaced. The coverage in Thailand and Cambodia of sensitive incidents, including the recent arrest of seven Thais on charges of trespassing on Cambodianterritory, could improve or damage relations between the neighbouring countries. ANUCHA CHAROENPOspoke to Neth Pheaktra, managing editor of the Khmer-language edition of the PhnomPenh Post newspaper, on its reporting policy.

Neth Pheaktra: Has ‘‘never exaggerated the news’’

What's your newspaper's policy on reporting the arrest of the seven Thais and other issues that could affect Thai-Cambodian relations?

This is a crucial story for us because the Cambodian people are watching developments closely.

We have run a lot of the stories relating to border disputes between the two countries since the [Preah Vihear] conflict flared up in 2008. The matter has also been reported by other local newspapers.

Do you agree with critics saying the press is partly to blame for the escalation of Thai-Cambodian tensions?

The stories that we publish are based on facts and are well-balanced. We have never exaggerated the news. Cambodian people pay a lot of attention to the Thai-Cambodian relations issue because we are neighbours.

Nationalist sentiment always runs high when it comes to Thai-Cambodian relations. How do you view this trend?

Both Thai and Cambodian people feel the same way - they love their country. Whenever our country has problems, the people will unite to protect our beloved nation.

Neither the Cambodian people nor the government want to lose a square inch of our land, but we don't want even a square inch of Thai soil.

The best way to improve relations between our two nations is to respect one another.

There is an argument that the seven Thais were arrested on Thai soil.

According to a video clip posted on YouTube, this group of people said themselves they were in Cambodia. They walked 500 to 600 metres into Cambodia. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has been quoted as saying the seven Thais entered Cambodia by accident.

However, the detainees' lawyers have the right to produce evidence and fight for them in court, which, I think, will complete the hearing by the end of this month. Once the Phnom Penh Municipal Court hands down its verdict, the seven Thais can appeal to a higher court if they disagree [with the verdict].

If the defendants have any evidence to back their claims that the area where they were arrested is in Thailand, they can submit it to the court. We should let the law take its course.

Are there any political motivations surrounding this case?

This case is related to politics. So, both governments need to hold urgent talks to solve the problem. Coordination is needed at all levels to reduce tensions between the two countries. The seven Thais should confess to the court [that they entered Cambodia illegally] and prove that they had no intention of trespassing.

How can Thai-Cambodian relations return to normal?

We have bilateral mechanisms. [Cambodian] Prime Minister Hun Sen and Mr Abhisit have emphasised that when problems emerge between the two countries, the two sides will hold talks. Negotiations, not military action, will help solve the problems.The two countries should also press ahead with collaboration to solve the border demarcation disputes.

Veera denied bail in Cambodia, others released


via CAAI

Published: 18/01/2011

The Cambodian court on Tuesday morning released another four Thais on bail, on condition they stay in Cambodia until their trial, reports said.

Road block: Members of the Thai Patriots Network and Santi Asoke sect block Phitsanulok Road beside Government House to build makeshift shelters for a prolonged rally. The group says it will petition His Majesty the King to oust the Democrat-led government for failing to obtain the release of seven Thai detainees in Cambodia. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD

The decision meant that only Veera Somkwamkid, a core leader of the yellow-shirt splinter group Thai Patriots Network, remains in detention.

All seven Thais have been charged with illegal entry, but Mr Veera and his secretary also face charges of espionage for allegedly spying before their arrest.

Yellow-shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid is escorted by Cambodian police at the Cambodian court in Phnom Penh on Jan 18, 2011.

The court cited the serious charge of spying as a reason for refusing bail for Mr Veera.

The seven have been charged with trespassing on Cambodian territory and intruding into a military zone on Dec 29.

The four allowed bail were later taken back to Prey Sar Prison pending their transfer to the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, where Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth and Narumol Chaiwaratana, who were earlier freed on bail, are residing.

The date for their trials have not yet been set.

Emerging from the court room, Mr Veera appeared frustrated. He said he would appeal the ruling.

''I will appeal to the Supreme Court. I will fight to the end,'' Mr Veera said.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva talked on the telephone today with one of the four Thais who were release on bail by the Cambodian court.

He said he asked Saemdin Lertbutr, a member of the Santi Asoke cult, about the general conditions he faced while in detention along with six other Thais in Prey Sar prison.

Mr Abhisit assured all of them, including Mr Veera, that the government would continue to do its best to help them.

He expected the court decision on the case would be delivered soon.

The prime minister said he did not know specifically why Mr Veera was denied bail, but maybe the charges against Mr Veera were more serious than those against the others.

Once the case is finalised, the government will adopt a clear stance toward Cambodia, Mr Abhsit said.

On the Thai Patriots Network rally in front of Government House, Mr Abhisit said he had asked police to strictly keep the protesters' activity within the scope of the law, otherwise the government could be criticised for not being impartial.


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EARLIER REPORT:

The five are scheduled to arrive at the court at 7am and are expected to be taken to a chamber to await the court decision on their bail request, said Pon Savath, the chief clerk of the court.

Mr Pon said the media would be allowed in the courtroom but would be barred from taking photographs.

Three judges have been appointed to consider the bail request and they are expected to arrive at their decision within two to three hours.

The submission to the Appeal Court follows a ruling by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday against granting bail to the five Thais.

Mr Pon said the five could apply to the Supreme Court if the Appeal Court today upheld the lower court's decision.

The five Thai nationals still in detention are Veera Somkhwamkid, a coordinator of the Thai Patriots Network, a splinter group of the yellow shirt People's Alliance for Democracy; Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, Mr Veera's secretary; Samdin Lertbutr and Tainae Mungmajon, members of the Santi Asoke cult; and Kitchaponthorn Chusanasevi, an aide to Democrat MP for Bangkok Panich Vikitsreth.

The five are among seven Thai nationals held by Cambodian authorities after they allegedly crossed the border into Cambodia on Dec29 last year.

Cambodia has accused the seven, who include Mr Panich and his secretary Narumol Chitvarattana, of trespassing on its territory and illegally entering a military area in Banteay Meanchey opposite Thailand's Sa Kaeo province.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court decided on Thursday to grant bail to Mr Panich and Ms Narumol for health reasons. The two have been given shelter at the Thai ambassador's residence inside the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh.

The seven could face up to 18 months in jail if they are found guilty of the charges.

Mr Veera and Ms Ratree have also been charged with espionage and could face a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Diplomatic sources close to the case in Phnom Penh said it was possible that three of the five Thais still in detention could be released on bail this week.

Mr Veera and Ms Ratree are likely to be kept in prison because they have entered Cambodia illegally several times and are facing more serious charges, the sources said.

Cambodian authorities want assurances from Mr Veera that he would not again become involved in provocative behaviour.

The sources quoted Cambodian officials as saying Mr Veera had submitted written assurances in the past when he had been arrested saying he would not stray again into Cambodian territory.

The sources said it was up to the Cambodian court whether those granted bail would be allowed to leave the country and return to Thailand.

Mr Pon said: "In my opinion, this is not a big case. It is a common case. Every suspect, regardless of their nationality, has the right to seek bail if they are arrested in Cambodia."

He said the two Cambodian lawyers representing the Thais were simply following the law in seeking bail for their clients.

If the five were released on bail, they would have to put up money as surety. They would not be allowed to leave Cambodia until the Phnom Penh Municipal Court decided whether to convict them.

Mr Pon said Cambodian law required that the trial of the seven Thais must be completed within six months.

Ros Aun, one of the lawyers representing the Thais, went to the Appeal Court yesterday to follow up the request for bail.

Mr Ros said he was still unsure whether the court would grant the bail request.

Cambodian court frees on bail more Thais

 via CAAI

By The Nation



Veera's bail request denied

A Cambodian Court on Tuesday freed on bail four of five remaining Thai detainees who are charged with trespassing into Cambodian soil late last year.

Court denied bail request for Veera Somkwamkit, leader of Thai Patriots Network, who is also accused of spying.

The four were Samdin Lertbutr, Tainae Mungmajon, Kitponthorn Chusnasevee and Ratree Pitpattanapaibul. Ratree is also accused of spying.

The decision left Veera who was charged with trespassing last year remain in jail.

Veera told reporters before the trial that the accusations were groundless as he was on the Thai soil when he was arrested on December 29 last year.

Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth and Naruemon Jitrawarattana were the first two Thais granted the bail. The conditions were that they remained in Cambodia and were ready to report to authorities when summoned.

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press


via CAAI

PM Supports ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan for 2011-2015

Phnom Penh, January 18, 2011 AKP – Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen has supported the 2011-2015 ASEAN tourism strategic plan.
The Cambodian premier expressed his support when he received here on Monday a delegation of ASEAN tourism ministers led by Indonesian Tourism Minister H.E. Jero Wacik, according to Ieng Sophalet, assistant to Samdech Techo Hun Sen.

During the meeting, H.E. Jero Wacik briefed Samdech Techo Hun Sen on the result of 30th ASEAN Tourism Forum hosted by Cambodia, which aims to further promote the cooperation between ASEAN member countries and between them and their partners.

In reply, Samdech Techo Hun Sen welcomed the result of the forum, saying that it reflects the solidarity among the ASEAN countries and their partners.

He also expressed his support to the reexamination of tourism strategy in the framework of the Great Mekong Sub-region. –AKP

By LIM Nary
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National Business Plan Competition Ends

Phnom Penh January 18, 2011 AKP – A national level competition on small- and medium-sized business plan wrapped up here last Friday under the presidency of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers H.E. Sok An.

The competition began in July 2010 with the participation of over 100 student groups from different universities throughout the country, said Sok Puthivudh, rector of the University of Puthisastra and co-chairman of the National Business Plan.

Of the 100 groups, ten was selected for a four-month training and finally three groups won the contest, he said, adding that the first winner will then join a regional competition.

Addressing the ceremony, H.E. Sok An said the competition is a historical event for Cambodia and it helps bridge the intellectuals and businessmen in establishing and enhancing small-and medium-sized enterprises in Cambodia.

The competition, organized by the University of Puthisastra in collaboration with CIESF Foundation, was sponsored by WASEDA University of Japan and other universities and companies in Cambodia. –AKP

By KHAN Sophirom
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EIC: Cambodia’s Economy Growth Reaches 6.5 Pts in 2010

Phnom Penh, January 18, 2011 AKP – The Cambodian economic growth reached 6.5 percent in 2010, affirmed an official of the Economic Institute of Cambodia (EIC) at a press conference held here on Jan. 17.

Mr. Khin Pisey, an EIC researcher, Cambodia’s economy has been returning to normal and last year, the country achieved 6.5 percent of economic growth, which is higher than the preliminary prediction by the royal government.

He attributed the growth rate to the improvement in the fields of rice and garment export, agro-industry and tourism. But, he said, the real estate and construction fields have not recovered yet.

For his part, EIC Director Noeu Seiha expressed his optimism towards the rice export, saying that this year, Cambodia is expected to export at least 100,000 tons of husked rice, against 40,000 tons in 2010.

He further urged for the creation of the paddy bank as an effort to prevent the flow of paddy to neighboring countries.

The Royal Government of Cambodia and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have predicted Cambodia’s economic growth at 5 percent in 2010 and 6 percent in 2011, while the prediction of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) is not so different – 4.8 percent in 2010 and 6.8 percent in 2011 for IMF; and 4.9 percent in 2010 and 6 percent this year for WB. — AKP

By Théng

Lakeside residents rally at embassy


Police remove a Boeung Kak lake protester from the area outside the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

via CAAI

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:02 Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Rebecca Puddy

Controversy over the Boeung Kak lakeside development continued yesterday when villagers gathered outside the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh, calling on the ambassador to intervene with a Chinese firm involved in the project.

Around 50 villagers attempted to deliver a petition to embassy officials, only to be turned away from the gates by 40 military police officers.

Lakeside resident Tep Vanny, 27, from Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune , said protesters were calling on Chinese Ambassador Pan Guangxue to intervene on their behalf.

A Chinese company, Inner Mongolia Erdos Hungjun Investment Co, is involved in a joint venture with local firm Shukaku Inc to develop the lakeside.

“We are asking for intervention from the Chinese ambassador here so the developers in the Boeung Kak lake development will address our problems,” Tep Vanny said.

The villagers’ petition, representing the demands of 3,200 people living in seven villages around the lake, outlined their request that the Shukaku Erdos Hongjun Property Development Co Ltd – the joint venture company – pay compensation of US$1,500 per square metre of property lost to the project.

It also called on the firm to provide 15 hectares of land to residents displaced by the project.

The letter also said the villagers would not be opposed to the development of the lake if their terms were met.

Chinese embassy staff refused to exit the embassy compound to accept the letter, but villagers said they will return to the embassy and try again.

Yesterday’s events follow the violent eviction of around 20 villagers from their homes on Friday by Daun Penh district police and private security guards.

The homeless families are now living on the roadside amid the rubble of their demolished houses awaiting compensation from the Sino-Cambodian company.

Rights groups claim more than 4,000 families will be displaced by the controversial development.

The deal to develop the lake was announced as part of a $3- billion investment package by Inner Mongolia Erdos Hongjun Investment Co following a meeting between Prime Minister Hun Sen and the company’s chairman in September.

In its $3-billion investment, the Chinese company committed to building coal-fired power plants, real estate and metal processing plants for export and domestic use.

Chinese investment has poured into in the Kingdom following the January 2010 commencement of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, with initial investment in textile and garments now diversifying to include sectors such as hydropower, agriculture, construction and the development of special economic zones.

Cambodian envoy raps BBC report


via CAAI

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:02 Matt Lundy

The Cambodian ambassador to the United Kingdom has lashed out at the BBC over a recent radio documentary that explored foreign investment in Cambodia and the pilfering of land from rural communities.

In a letter sent yesterday to BBC Radio 4, Ambassador Hor Nambora said the broadcast gave a “superficial appearance of being unbiased” but that its intention was to “discredit the Royal Government of Cambodia and sully its reputation”.

Hor Nambora said the documentary bore an “uncomfortable similarity” to accusations levelled against the Cambodian government by Global Witness, a London-based international watchdog.

“One can only hope that the BBC has not been misled by this politically-motivated and discredited body which seems to specialise in spouting ever more irresponsible statements and misinformation,” the letter read.

The radio programme, titled “Cambodia: Country for Sale,” looked at the Kingdom’s boom in foreign investment and its repercussions in rural areas. A BBC website article that accompanied the documentary said, “stories are filtering in from the country’s most impoverished farmers who tell of fear, violence and intimidation as private companies team up with armed police to force them from their land”.

In his letter, Hor Nambora highlighted how the government is speeding the process of land registration, saying that “more than two million such land deeds have been dispatched”.

The Cambodian Ambassador’s comments are just the latest in a long series of attacks against Global Witness and the BBC. In 2009 he derided a BBC report on land disputes as “extremely one-sided”, and has lobbed similar criticisms at journalists from The Guardian and The Financial Times.

In April, Hor Nambora issued a statement condemning Global Witness after the watchdog said a US$28 million payment made by a French oil company for exploration rights lacked transparency.

Sex crime: Teenager on child rape charge


via CAAI

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:02 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Battambang provincial court on Sunday charged a 15-year-old boy with the rape of a 7-year-old girl in Thma Koul district, police said.

Chan Nareth, deputy chief of the provincial Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Office, said Heng Virak was arrested on Thursday at his home in Samrong village, in Tameun commune, following a complaint from the girl’s parents. According to the complaint, Chan Nareth said, Heng Virak raped the victim on January 6 while her parents were working in their rice field.

“After raping [her], the offender returned to his home and the victim told her mother many days later,” he said.

Krouch Chhanpov, a monitor for local rights group Adhoc based in Battambang, said that this was just the latest in a string of similar incidents in the province. On December 21, she noted, Seng Saro, also 15, was charged with the rape of his 6-year-old female cousin at his home in Samlot district. Seng Saro was arrested on December 18 following his arrest and is currently in detention awaiting trial.

“I think that the reason why in recent years many boys have raped girls is because they have watched sex videos or have been seen their parents’ sexual activities openly in their houses … so they practiced it,” she said.

Plans to address lack of midwives


Nurses work at Pursat provincial hospital in 2009. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

via CAAI

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:01 Sen David

The Health Ministry has announced plans to step up regional midwifery training programmes this year in a bid to address the unmet needs of women living in remote areas and combat Cambodia’s high maternal mortality rates.

Thir Kruy, secretary of state at the Ministry of Health, told a workshop on health care services in Phnom Penh yesterday that training programmes in remote areas would be increased because midwives coming from urban areas rarely committed to live in rural provinces for the long-term.

He said most midwives lived and trained in Phnom Penh.

“It is a problem,” he said. “We put effort into training people but when they finish, they hesitate to work in rural or far away areas, so the far away areas still lack midwives.”

Many midwives from the cities who do work in remote areas, he said, only do so on a part-time or temporary basis.

“Most of them go to work in rural areas or far away areas for just a few days, and then they came back home,” he said.

“Because they are far away from their homes ... it is difficult for them living and working there.”

Authorities have long cited a lack of healthcare services in rural and remote areas as one of the major obstacles to reducing the Kingdom’s maternal mortality rate which, based on data from the 2008 census, is pegged at 461 deaths per 100,000 live births and is widely cited as among the highest in the region.

In 2009, Cambodia set a national target to reduce the maternal mortality rate to 250 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015. This target was revised upward from an original target of 140.

Chhay Svaycheaath, director of the Cambodian Midwives Association, which falls under the Ministry of Health, cautioned yesterday that stepping up training programmes would not guarantee a higher number of trained staff working in remote areas.

“Actually, I think we cannot force midwives to work anywhere. It is their right [to choose],” he said.

“Most of them would like to work in the city.”

Sosy Vorn, a midwife of more than 20 years who is based in a remote district in Kampong Thom province, welcomed the ministry’s announcement yesterday, saying most midwives wanted to work in the city, leaving rural communities understaffed.

“It is better for the ministry to promote training for rural people because they can serve their local community,” she said.

Four appeal to PM over murder case


via CAAI

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun

Family members of four people accused of involvement in an attempted murder plot called yesterday for the release of their relatives and intervention from Prime Minister Hun Sen, ahead of the third trial hearing at Phnom Penh Municipal Court today.

The four – Chan Sokha, 38, Neang Sinath, 25, Khorn Lak, 30, and Yin Sophearith, 25 – stand accused of collaborating with Seng Chenda, the wife of tycoon Khaou Chuly, in an attempt to murder Suv Chantha, Khaou Chuly’s daughter from a previous marriage. All have pleaded not guilty.

Suv Chantha is married to Sun Chanthol, vice chairman of the Council for the Development of Cambodia and a former minister of public works.

Thuon Sarath, Chan Sokha’s younger brother-in-law, said the relatives were holding the press conference voluntarily and with their own money in a bid to convince Hun Sen and court officials to intervene and free the defendants.

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My sister ... was framed and the charges against her were an invented story.

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“We are 100 percent sure they are innocent and [their confessions] were fabricated,” Thuon Sarath said at La Parranda Hotel in Phnom Penh.

During previous testimony, Chan Sokha and Neang Sinath alleged police and Sun Chanthol forced them to falsely admit guilt during interrogation.

“We have had sufficient evidence and witnesses presented to court officials ... to claim they were innocent,” Thuon Sarath said.

Chan Sokha and Neang Sinath had also written to Hun Sen to protest for their innocence, he said.

“My sister ... was framed and the charges against her were an invented story from police officials who pressured her with a threat to tell a false story, blaming Lok Chumteav Seng Chenda ... of masterminding [the plot],” said Chan Dara, Chan Sokha’s younger sister.

The arrest of Chan Sokha, who was a housemaid for Khaou Chuly, is believed to have led police to Seng Chenda.

Sor Thorn, the mother of Yan Sophearith, who worked as a security guard for one of Khaou Chuly’s companies, said it was “impossible” for her son to have jumped over the gate at Sun Chanthol’s house because he was recovering from a traffic accident in May. The crime is alleged to have occurred June 13.

“I appeal to court officials to find justice for my son,” she said.

Lim Vanna, co-defence attorney for Seng Chenda, said he was surprised to hear about the event, but took a favourable view of it. Suv Chantha’s attorney Pal Chandara could not be reached for comment.

The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights has said it is monitoring the case.

Armed removal for Preah Vihear offices


via CAAI

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:01 Thet Sambath

Residents of Svay Chrum village near Preah Vihear temple protested yesterday while military and police dismantled their homes to make way for Preah Vihear National Authority and UNESCO offices.

“Soldiers, military police, police and local authorities have just now destroyed houses that had no people in them,” said Touch Thoeung, deputy chief of Choam Ksan district’s Kontout commune.

“They will destroy all houses in this place because they are located under the Preah Vihear National Authority and the area needs to be developed.”

He said a deadline for people to move issued by the district governor had expired.

Local said officials were armed and took wood from the houses away by truck.

Phann Thoeun, 37, added that “armed forces” attempted to arrest protesting residents and load them onto trucks.

“But other villagers helped intervene,” he said. “We were warned of arrest and imprisonment if we protested. They were all well-armed and everyone had a nice gun.”

Villager Sao Yath said he and three residents are on the run, fearing arrest.

“Armed forces are looking for us and tried to arrest us when we asked them to show us a letter from the government allowing the destruction of people’s houses,” he said by phone yesterday.

253 families have rejected an offer of 2 million riels (US$475) in compensation and a 50-by-100 metre plot in nearby Thamacheat Samdech Techo village.

District police chief Bam Yin said 26 houses had been disassembled by 20 military, police and government officials, and he was “not sure” if they would resume activity today. He denied reported threats of arrest.

Hor Neat, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said more than 100 soldiers, military police, police and local officials were involved.

Sex offender: Canada lifts paedophile's restrictions


via CAAI

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:01 CHHAY CHANNYDA & MATT LUNDY

A CANADIAN national convicted of sex crimes against Cambodian children has unrestricted freedom in his native country, according to a report from The Canadian Press. Orville Mader was arrested by Canadian officials in 2007 at Vancouver International Airport, shortly after leaving Thailand, where authorities had issued an arrest warrant on child sex allegations. The same year, the Canadian government issued a restraining order preventing Mader from contacting children or using the internet, but those restrictions have not been renewed.

Reports in the Canadian media state that Mader served time in a Cambodian prison in 2004, but was eventually acquitted on charges of debauchery. In 2007, he was convicted in absentia to 15 years jail on child sex charges.

Documents obtained by the British Columbia provincial court stated there is “evidence of sexual activity with male children under 14 in e-mails exchanged in 2003 and 2004 in Cambodia”.

Bith Kimhong, director of the Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department, said he couldn’t recall Mader’s case, but that the government would put him on “a blacklist as a dangerous paedophile” if Canada forwards on his case file. The Canadian embassy in Bangkok declined to comment yesterday.

Police Blotter: 18-01-2011


via CAAI

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:00 Phak Seangly

Waiter charged over arson attack on eatery
Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Saturday detained a 30-year-old man after charging him with attempting to burn down a restaurant in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district on January 7. Police arrested the suspect, a waiter at the restaurant, who confessed that a woman hired him to torch the premises. The man has been charged with arson. Police said they are looking for the woman supposedly connected with the case. KOH SANTEPHEAP

Teenager arrested over rape of 17-year-old
An 18-year-old man was arrested for allegedly raping a 17-year-old girl on the grounds of a primary school in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district on Friday. The woman was drinking with four men in her village on Thursday night before the suspect drove her home at about 11pm then stopped at a nearby school and raped her. Police said that the man was sent to court after confessing his guilt under questioning. KOH SANTEPHEAP

Alcoholic commits suicide at porridge stall
Police said a 36-year-old alcoholic man who was “ignored by his wife” committed suicide on Saturday in Kampong Speu province’s Phnom Sruoch district. According to police, the man left home for a porridge stall in his village. He reportedly complained that he was upset, then grabbed a knife from a porridge seller and stabbed himself in the throat. The man died instantly at the scene. KOH SANTEPHEAP

Man accused of taking vendor’s vegetables
Police arrested a 30-year-old man on suspicion of theft and purchasing stolen property in Battambang province’s Battambang town on Friday. Police said a 29-year-old vegetable seller filed a complaint with police after his vegetables and cart were stolen on January 10. Police arrested the suspect when they found the cart at his home. The man denied the accusations, claiming that another man left the cart at his home after he refused to buy it. Police sent the man to the provincial court for questioning. RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Motorbike, tractor crash claims two
Two men died and one man was critically injured in a traffic accident in Banteay Meanchey province’s Thma Puok district on Thursday. Police said that two men drove a motorbike into a parked tractor on their way home from a concert at about 10:30pm. The tractor driver, aged 20, and the motorbike driver, aged 23, died in hospital. The other man remains in critical condition. Police said the two men on the motorbike were not wearing helmets at the time of the accident. RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Kampong Chhnang villager convicted of disinformation


via CAAI

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:01 May Titthara

Kampong Chhnang provincial court yesterday convicted a villager from Kampong Tralach district of disinformation in connection with a land dispute involving development company KDC International.

Sam Chankea, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said Reach Seima, 30, was fined 2 million riel (US$495) and ordered to pay 8 million riel ($1,980) in compensation to the firm. Similar charges against villager Pheng Rom, 45, were dropped.

KDC accused the pair of disinformation and obstructing development after they claimed in 2009 that the company had illegally cleared 140 hectares of their land.

“The court should not have sentenced Reach Seima for defamation because the company does not have enough evidence and what he said to the media is true,” said Sam Chankea.

Sam Chankea is also facing a disinformation charge following complaints from KDC, stemming from a December 2009 radio interview in which he suggested that KDC’s land clearance may have been illegal. His verdict is likely to be handed down today.

KDC is run by Chea Kheng, the wife of the Minister for Industry, Mines and Energy Suy Sem.

The company, which claims to have purchased land in Lorpeang village in 1996, has filed five complaints against villagers since 2002.

Adhoc coordinator Sam Chankea said the court’s conviction was unjust because Reach Seima was not present at the court hearing.

He added that he had received no response to complaints filed against the firm, but when KDC filed complaints against villagers, the court took action immediately.

“It is very unjust for poor people,” he said.

Reach Seima said that he would file an appeal today.

“The court decision is very unjust because what I said to the media is true: The company really cleared villagers’ farmland,” he said.

Long Lun, a defence lawyer for the pair, said he did not attend the hearing yesterday because the court refused an earlier request to delay the trial.

“We welcome the court dropping charges against one villager, but we cannot accept the court’s decision to sentence [Reach Seima],” he said.

A representative of KDC International, Thai Hy, declined to comment yesterday.

KDC company lawyer Phat Pao Sieng and deputy prosecutor Heng Luy could not be reached for comment.

Ministers back tourism plan


Prime Minister Hun Sen shakes hands with Indonesia’s Tourism Minister Jero Wacik at the capital’s Peace Palace. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

via CAAI

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:01 Soeun Say

Tourism ministers from the 10-nation ASEAN bloc endorsed a regional strategic plan for the sector during a meeting in prime minister Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh office yesterday.

The plan, which runs from 2011 to 2015, is intended to boost regional cooperation to ensure tourism growth within ASEAN, South Korea, China and Japan.

“We are convinced that, with close cooperation among the ASEAN nations and dialogue partners, we will be productive and the plan will be beneficial to all the members,” Cambodia’s Minister of Tourism Thong Khon, who chaired the meeting, told reporters yesterday.

As part of the strategy plan, he said, ASEAN members must strengthen tourism promotion and push development.

The expansion and strengthening of tourism services through human resources training could pave the way for better travel facilitation and connectivity in the region, he said. “We must reaffirm our commitments for sustained ASEAN tourism cooperation.

“The world has started recovering from the global economic downturn. We need to sustain ASEAN’s fame as the fastest growing tourism destination in the world.”

Tith Chantha, director general of the Ministry of Tourism, added that the region has the “most potential” of any destination in the world, but cooperation was necessary for development.

A meeting tomorrow with China, Japan and South Korea will inform them of the plan’s approval.

Port revenues hit $35m last year


via CAAI

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:00 Chun Sophal

Services and shipping across Cambodia’s two major ports generated total revenues of US$35 million in 2010, according to official data released yesterday, a rise of around 31 percent.

Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, the biggest port in the Kingdom, generated about $28.42 million in revenues last year, according to pre-audit figures. This was up $3.27 million from $25.15 million in 2009, according to data.

The state-run authority which manages the port has been tipped as being set to list on Cambodia’s upcoming stock exchange. Meanwhile, Phnom Penh Autonomous Port, the Kingdom’s second largest port, received total revenues of $6.5 million in 2010, up from just $1.5 million in 2009.

Representatives of both ports told The Post yesterday that the gains were due to an increase of shipments in 2010 from a year earlier.

Hei Bavy, director of Phnom Penh Autonomous Port, said yesterday freight shipped through the port had soared around 44 percent, from 62,256 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units in 2010, up from 43,312 TEUs in 2009.

“I hope that the port will generate more income this year because better economic recovery requires more demand for goods,” he said.

He highlighted the growing potential of shipments of agricultural products, construction materials, clothes, raw materials for the garment sector and other commodities during 2011.

Ma Sun Hout, deputy director of Sihanoukville’s port, said that total shipments in 2010 were 2.217 million tonnes, a rise of about18 percent on 2009.

“We still hope to receive more shipments this year because it signals a positive economic environment,” he said. Profits were not released.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief


via CAAI

Salt target announced

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:00 Chun Sophal

THE Cambodian Salt Association plans to produce about 80,000 tonnes of salt in 2011, according to its president Ly Seng yesterday. He said it was a month and half since salt season started. So far, the association has produced about 10,000 tonnes.

Beeline and ACLEDA link for top-up service


Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:00 ELLIE DYER
Mobile phone provider Beeline is cooperating with ACLEDA to allow its users to top up call credit via mobile banking. Users of the Cambodian bank’s Unity scheme can add up to US$20 of credit to Beeline accounts through the service, a press release stated yesterday.

TFC hands wild card to Thai star Danai Udomchoke


Thai tennis legend Danai Udomchoke has been granted a wild card entry into the two back-to-back Futures events to be played in Phnom Penh from next week. Photo Supplied

via CAAI

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:00 H S Manjunath

The Tennis Federation of Cambodia has granted a wild card to one of Thailand’s best known pros, Danai Udomchoke, for the two back-to-back ITF Men’s US$15,000 Futures events coming up at the National Training Centre from January 24.

The right-handed 29-year-old, regarded as the second biggest name in Thai tennis after Paradorn Srichaphan, was at his raging best in 2007 when he reached his career-high world ranking of 77 and made it to the third round of the Australian Open, but in the intervening years had drifted back to as low as his current 458 following injury problems and loss of form.

A request for a wild card came from the former 2006 Asian Games and 2007 World University Games gold medalist through an email to TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivit a few days ago.

“The decision was not so difficult,” said Tep Rithivit. “We are honoured to have a player of his class and we decided almost instantly to grant him his wish. He has confirmed that he would reach Phnom Penh on January 23.”

Three wild cards for each Futures event are given to the host Federation, while a fourth is at the disposal of the world governing body ITF.

The TFC is roping in national players Bun Kenny and Tan Nysan as wild cards. “The third wild card has rightfully gone to a deserving name like Udomchoke. We are happy and excited to accommodate him here,” the Secretary General said.

Danai Udomchoke, picked up his first Futures title in his homeland in 1998, just a year after turning pro. He has also claimed eight Challengers titles – one step up from Futures tournaments – over the last seven years, with his latest coming in May, 2009, in Busan, South Korea.

The Bangkok native, who idolised Pete Sampras in his formative years, has a 61-43 career record with a total prize money close to one million dollars. A hard court specialist, whose forte is forehand ground strokes, Udomchoke has a 26-12 Davis Cup singles record over 25 contests.

“His current ATP Champions race position of 139 is a sign that he is fighting his way to back to the form the world has known him for,” Tep Rithivit added.

Tennis Fed find funds to host both tourneys


TFC President and Senior Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh has helped attract sponsorship to host the back-to-back US$15,000 Futures events. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

via CAAI

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:00 H S Manjunath

With less than a week to go before the Kingdom’s historic debut as host of an ITF Futures event, the Tennis Federation of Cambodia has tied up all the loose financial ends by securing several sponsorship deals over the last fortnight.

“We are ready and raring to go,” said TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivit. “Thankfully most of our financial worries have been resolved just in time thanks to generous sponsorship offers from the corporate as well as the private sectors. There is still a slight shortfall but we are hopeful of making it over.”

TFC President and Senior Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh led an inspired campaign to mobilise funds to cope with the additional burden of having to raise extra prize money for the two back-to-back week-long US$15,000 tournaments which were originally set at $10,000.

“Our relentless efforts have borne fruit and I am extremely happy that we have got over these financial hurdles,” said the Minister. “We are eager to let the grandest tennis show the country has ever seen hit the stage next week.”

Tep Rithivit expressed his gratitude to a “glorious band of sponsors” led by ANZ Royal Bank.

“Their support and contribution has been invaluable,” the Secretary added.

“We are also thankful to Pepsi, RM Asia, Infinity Insurance, Ezecom, Hello, Tiger Beer and Hotel Cambodiana for their whole hearted support.

“The ITF’s grant of $16,000 from the Grand Slam Development Fund has been very helpful in organising this event which would cost us about $70,000 in all.

“I am glad that the Federation can now focus its attention on the main show now that the finances are all are wrapped up. We are set to launch the best two weeks of tennis the country has ever seen.”

Elephant celebrates her 51st birthday


Sombo celebrates her official 51st birthday yesterday afternoon at Wat Phnom. Photo by: WESLEY MONTS

via CAAI

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:00 Sarah Macklin

PHNOM Penh’s beloved only elephant celebrated her official 51st birthday yesterday with good news.

Talks are progressing well with the municipal government in a bid to find her a permanent home and shelter at Wat Phnom, said Mariam Arthur, CEO of Kmy Films and the administrator of the elephant’s Facebook page.

Visiting Australian teacher Justin Corfield presented elephant keeper Sin Sorn with US$3,500 – enough money to keep her supplied with her favourite carrots, bananas and sugar cane for a year.

He pledged the donation in memory of his late father Robin, who first visited Cambodia in 1963 and had planned to write a book on Angkor.

However, it turns out the Western media have been getting the elephant’s name wrong for years. It’s Sombo, not Sambo, said Song Vanthet, who has written her life story in a booklet sold to visitors for $1.

Sombo has given rides to tourists since 1982 at Wat Phnom, her distinctive speckled ears and trunk being photographed by visitors from around the globe.

Her story gained worldwide exposure after she was separated from her keeper for three years during the Khmer Rouge rule and reunited after exile in Pursat province.

Sin Sorn was sent to Battambang during the regime and only reunited with his beloved elephant when he heard she was safe after the war.

Her new owner returned the elephant to his care – the only one of five family elephants to survive.

Justin Corfield, who is in Cambodia on a school trip with nine students from Geelong Grammar in Australia, said he decided to pay for Sombo’s annual food bill because his late father loved animals and the Kingdom. He also shares his own birthday with the pachyderm.

While here, he and his students will help build homes for Habitat for Humanity in Udong.

Pining for refreshment


Photo by: SRENG MENG SRUN


via CAAI
 
Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:00 Seng Sovan
 
A vendor arranges her stock of pineapples for sale at a stall in Skuon town, in Kampong Cham province’s Cheung Prey district, earlier this month.

They’re planning a coop


Photo by: Heng Chivoan

via CAAI

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:00 Heng Chivoan

The setting is Boeung Trabek lake in Phsar Doeum Thkov commune of Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district. The sign by protesting residents says: “Please district [authorities] postpone digging the canal on the villagers’ land in southern Boeung Trabek. Samdech Hun Sen please help the villagers.” And the chickens are restless.

Court hears bail plea today

via CAAI

By THE NATION
Published on January 18, 2011

The Cambodian Appeals Court will open today to hear a new request for bail by five Thais held for illegal entry, Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said yesterday.

The ministry hoped the five people would be released once the court considered their case, he said.
Seven Thais including Democrat Party MP Panich Vikitsreth and yellow-shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid were arrested near Sa Kaew's Ban Nong Chan while inspecting a disputed border area on December 29.

They were charged with illegal entry into the country and a military zone.

They could face 18 months in jail if convicted.

Veera, who was briefly held in the same area in August, and aide Ratree Pipatanapaiboon were later charged with espionage for collecting information that could undermine Cambodia's security. They could be sentenced to up 10 years jail.

Panich and Narumol Chitwara-tana were granted bail last week on health grounds, according to the Cambodian Foreign Ministry. It also said the court was still working on the other five detainees' cases. Thani said the Cambodian court was expected to rule on the illegal entry charge this week, but he still had no idea when the decision on Veera and Ratree's additional charge would be made.

A group of Thai lawyers led by Karun Sai-gnam, who has close connections with the yellow shirts, wants to participate in the case and has asked the Foreign Ministry to help them gain access to the Cambodian court.

The Foreign Ministry could not facilitate such a request, as foreign lawyers could not do legal work for Thai defendants in a Cambodian court, the spokesman said. The Thai defendants had the right to change lawyers if they wanted, but had to use Cambodian lawyers, he said.

If the Thai lawyers wanted to help the five, they should contact the Cambodian defence lawyers directly, as the ministry could not help, he said.

The Thai Embassy has engaged two Cambodian lawyers to represent the seven Thais.

The Cambodian issue has become a political headache for Abhisit Vejjajiva's government as Veera's group, calling themselves the Thai Patriots Network, has been staging a protest in front of Government House.

They allege that Abhisit's government is weak and lacks the ability to free the Thais, who they believe were taken captive on Thai territory where a Cambodian community has been living for more than 30 years.

The protesters have blocked the road to Government House and refused to reopen it.

They have called for Abhisit, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and many officials at the Foreign Ministry step down for "failing" to help the seven Thais.

The group would also lodge a petition today with the Royal Household Bureau, asking His Majesty the King to help get the seven Thais released from the Cambodian prison, leader Chaiwat Sinsuwong said.

Tensions between North, South Korea play out in Cambodian restaurant wars

http://www.vancouversun.com/

via CAAI

By Jonathan Manthorpe, Vancouver Sun
January 17, 2011

Dec. 28: South Korean protesters burn a placard showing the defaced portraits of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (L) and his youngest son and successor-in-waiting Kim Jong-un (R) during an anti-North Korea rally in Seoul on December 28, 2010.
Photograph by: JUNG YEON-JE, AFP/Getty Images


Here's advice for anyone hankering for Korean food in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh or the tourist mecca of Siem Reap. Sit close to the door and with your back to the wall.

Cambodia has several Korean restaurants, most operated by South Koreans. But in Siem Reap there are two operated by North Korea and there's another in Phnom Penh.

Trouble started when South Korean restaurateurs condemned last year's attacks by the North on one of the South's warships and on its Yeonpyeong Island.

In retaliation, South Korean restaurant owners report their premises have been attacked by people "who appeared to be North Korean agents."

Seoul's embassy in Phnom Penh has recommended to South Korean tourist agencies that they avoid the North's eateries.

Cambodia Survivor: ‘I Want to Show the Better Side of Humanity’ (With Video)

 via CAAI

January 17th, 2011
by James Pitkin
Kilong Ung, a Portland software engineer who survived the 1970s Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, is returning to his native land next week to start work on building a new school.

“I want to show the better side of humanity,” Ung says. “My dream is not just one or two schools. I want to build hundreds or thousands.”

In a 2009 WW profile, Ung described losing his parents, younger sister and seven other relatives in the genocide estimated to have killed 2 million people. Ung and his older sister, Sivheng, fled to Thailand and eventually settled in Portland, where Ung graduated from Cleveland High School and Reed College.

Still haunted by nightmares of the past, in 2009 Ung published a memoir called Golden Leaf and founded the Golden Leaf Education Foundation to raise money for schools in Cambodia. Ung says the foundation has so far raised more than $65,000, with one couple giving $16,000.

The Cambodian-American Community of Oregon for years has provided food and medical aid to the people of Ang, an impoverished village in western Cambodia. CACO members told Ung the village school is in terrible condition, with holes in the roof that leak in the rain.

Ung is traveling to Cambodia this week to meet the district governor, visit the village and sign a contract with local builders. Ung says he’ll be accompanied by Chanly Bob, head of CACO; Norb Murray, president of the Golden Leaf Education Fund; and Hem Heng, the Cambodian ambassador to the United States.

Ung and Murray are active in the Rotary Club of Portland, and Ung says a local rotary in Cambodia will oversee building the school. Ung says he hopes it will be the first of many new schools in Cambodia built with donations from Oregon. (To donate, contact kilongung@gmail.com.)

“The Khmer Rouge eradicated my faith in humanity, and by doing this, I am rebuilding my own faith in humanity as well as other people’s faith in humanity,” Ung says. “Two million people died. I want to make sure they didn’t die in vain.”

Watch this video to learn more about Golden Leaf Education Foundation:

Golden Leaf Education Foundation