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Thai spies’ families ask for financial aid

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Former Thai Yellow Shirt leader Veera Somkwamkid (R) and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon speak to reporters at the capital’s Appeal Court in December in 2011. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Former Thai Yellow Shirt leader Veera Somkwamkid (R) and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon speak to reporters at the capital’s Appeal Court in December in 2011. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Family members of two Thai spies jailed in Cambodia are seeking financial assistance from the Thai government to cover the expense of their trips to visit the detainees in Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison.

The Bangkok Post reported yesterday that Pisamphai Somkwamkid, the  wife of Veera Somkwamkid, co-ordinator of the Thai Patriots Network, and Wichai Pipatanapaiboon, the brother of Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, Veera’s secretary, had submitted requests for financial aid on Tuesday.

Veera and Ratree were arrested on December 29, 2010 with five other Thai nationals including then-Democrat Party parliamentarian Panich Vikitsreth. The pair were convicted on charges of illegal entry and espionage and given prison terms of between six and eight years.

They have served nearly two years in prison in Cambodia.

Narach Sawetanant, director-general of the Thai Justice Ministry’s Rights and Liberties Department, said the requests would be considered tomorrow by the committee governing the fund. Narach warned, however, that the fund’s panel would probably not approve the request because it involved a foreign country.

Sun Lean, the director of Correctional Centre I at Prey Sar prison, said Veera’s family visited him every Friday, sometimes accompanied by officials from the Thai embassy.

Narach said his department, along with the Thai Corrections Department, was in the process of requesting Veera and Ratree’s transfer to Thailand.

Ros Aun, Veera’s Cambodian defence lawyer, however, said he had not been contacted by the family of his former client, or by any Thai officials, for legal assistance in seeking exchange or transfer of the prisoner.

“I think that if they want to do anything, they will come to me,” Aun said, adding that Veera’s case had been quiet since his decision to drop his appeal earlier this year. 

To contact the reporter on this story: Cheang Sokha at sokha.cheang@phnompenhpost.com
With assistance from the Bangkok Post

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