Cambodia jails Thais over border

A Cambodian court handed down jail terms of eight and six years to two Thai activists who were found guilty of trespassing and spying.

Cambodia jails Thais over border

A Cambodian court on Tuesday handed down jail terms of eight and six years to two Thai activists who were found guilty of trespassing and spying, a verdict that could raise political tension in neighbouring Thailand.

The decision could add momentum to a small but prolonged protest by Thailand's "yellow shirt" activists angered by Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's diplomatic approach to dealing with a long-running border dispute with Cambodia.

Relations with Cambodia have become a bone of contention in long-running hostility between Thai political factions with the pro-establishment yellow shirts accusing their bitter foe, ousted former populist premier Thaksin Shinawatra, of colluding with Cambodia to Thailand's detriment.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has also used age-old rivalry with Thailand for his domestic interests.

The Cambodian court verdict also raises concerns about instability along the militarised border between the two countries. Both governments have had heated rows in recent years that have led to deadly skirmishes between troops.

Veera Somkwamkid, leader of a splinter faction of the yellow shirts, and his secretary, Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, were among seven Thais arrested by Cambodian soldiers on Dec. 29, when they entered a disputed border area.

The court in Phnom Penh sentenced Veera to eight years and Ratree, six years, for trespassing into the Cambodian territory, illegally entering a military zone and espionage.

"The decision is not acceptable," Veera told reporters. "There is no justice. We will fight this in a higher court."

The five other arrested Thais included a parliamentarian from Abhisit's ruling Democrat party. They were found guilty of trespassing late last month and were released after being given a suspended sentence.

The yellow shirts, formally known as the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), have demanded Abhisit revoke a decade-old Memorandum of Understanding with Cambodia aimed at resolving border disputes.

Protest leaders earlier said Abhisit had not done enough to secure the release of the two convicted Thais and accused him of risking a loss of Thai sovereignty by failing to evict Cambodians from the disputed land.

Reuters

 

Last Mod: 01 Şubat 2011, 16:54
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