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Thais plan to request mental assessment of man who laid mines

THAI authorities plan to seek permission to conduct a mental health assessment of a Thai national convicted of planting land mines along the Cambodia-Thailand border, an official said Tuesday.

Suphap Vong Pakna was sentenced earlier this month to 20 years in prison after he confessed to planting land mines along a contested border area before he was arrested in Oddar Meanchey province last February. But both his court-appointed Cambodian lawyer and Thai officials have suggested the man suffers from mental health problems.

Thani Thongphakdi, deputy spokesman for the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed Tuesday that his government plans to request that Thai medical personnel conduct an assessment of Suphap.

“He has had a prior history” of mental health issues, said Thani. “I don’t want to prejudge his current status. This depends on the approval of the Cambodian government. We would like to seek approval as soon as possible.”

Thai media have suggested the Thai government believes it could ask for a reduction in Suphap’s sentence if he is judged to have mental health issues. Thani declined to speculate on that point Tuesday.

“I think we’ll cross the bridge when we get there,” he said.

Suphap’s lawyer, Sam Sokong, said he would support having his client undergo a mental health assessment.

“I think it is a good idea that Thailand will send their psychologist to examine my client,” he said.

“Until now, there has been no clarification about this mental health problem.”

Sam Sokong said he plans to meet with Suphap on Friday to discuss “his health condition” and any possible appeal.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said Tuesday the government had yet to receive an official request to examine Suphap.

“We will see the reality, because right now, no request, no answer,” Koy Kuong said.

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