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Thursday 30 December 2010

Cambodia: 7 Thais to Stand Trial After Detention at Border

VOA News
29 December 2010

Cambodia says a Thai ruling party lawmaker and six others arrested in a disputed border area will face charges Thursday of illegally entering the country.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday the seven Thai nationals will appear in a Phnom Penh court and will be detained in the capital's Prey Sar prison.

Cambodian troops detained Thai Democratic Party lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth and the six others Wednesday on the border of southeastern Thailand's Sa Kaeo province and northwestern Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province.

Panich said he traveled to the area to investigate residents' complaints that Cambodian forces were intruding into Thailand. He said he and his companions were on Thai soil when they were detained.

A Thai government spokesman said Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was aware of Cambodia's detention of the seven Thais. The spokesman said Thai authorities were negotiating with their Cambodian counterparts to resolve the situation.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said he believes the arrests will not affect relations between the two neighbors, which were strained by deadly border skirmishes between their troops in 2008. He said he hopes Mr. Abhisit will show understanding for Cambodia's legal system.

One of the six Thais arrested with Panich is a former leader of Thailand's pro-government and pro-military Yellow Shirt movement, the People's Alliance for Democracy, or PAD. Veera Somkwamkid, now leads a PAD splinter group called the Thailand Patriot Network.

The 2008 clashes between Cambodian and Thai troops were part of a long-running dispute over ownership of an 11th century Hindu temple located on another part of the Cambodia-Thailand border.

U.N. cultural agency UNESCO declared the Preah Vihear temple to be a World Heritage site that year and recognized it as being under Cambodian control.

The countries also feuded when the Cambodian government appointed former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser last year. The Thai military ousted Thaksin in a 2006 coup for alleged corruption. He now lives in exile to avoid prosecution at home.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP.

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