Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Families seek Thaksin's help

Families seek Thaksin's help

Families seek Thaksin's help

110406_4
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks with fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra during a meeting at Hun Sen’s majestic home in Phnom Penh in December of 2009.

The families of two Thai nationalists convicted of espionage in Phnom Penh Municipal Court earlier this year are reportedly seeking assistance in securing their relatives’ release from fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thai “Yellow Shirt” leader Veera Somkwamkid was convicted along with an associate, Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, after they were arrested in Banteay Meanchey province last year along with five other Thais including parliamentarian Panich Vikitsreth. While Panich and four others were released on suspended sentences after being convicted of trespassing, Veera and Ratree were convicted of espionage and sentenced to eight- and six-year prison terms, respectively.

Veera’s mother reportedly said she had sought Thaksin’s help because her family “had waited for four months for the present government to help her son”, the Bangkok Post reported yesterday.

In a speech in February, Prime Minister Hun Sen rejected the possibility of pardons for Veera and Ratree.

“Don’t come to persuade me to ask for a Royal pardon, I will not do that and [the case] will be enforced under the law this time,” he said.

Under Cambodian law, prisoners are eligible for pardon after serving two-thirds of their jail sentences.

In 2009, however, the government released a Thai national sentenced to seven years in prison on espionage charges just days after his conviction.

The suspect, an airport engineer named Sivarak Chutipong, was arrested for allegedly passing the flight details of Thaksin Shinawatra to the Thai embassy during one of the fugitive former Thai premier’s
controversial visits to the Kingdom. Veera and Ratree’s families said they sought to contact Thaksin in part because they believed he had helped secure Sivarak’s release, the Bangkok Post said.

Thai officials could not be reached for comment yesterday, though Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva reportedly said he would not object to Thaksin’s assistance.

“I think anyone can help,” Abhisit said. “We feel sympathetic towards the families of Veera and Ratree who want them to be released as quickly as possible.”

Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong declined to comment on whether the pardon requests would be granted, but said the government planned to send a diplomatic note on the issue to the Thai embassy by today.

“Our stance, I would like to stress, is that we abide by the law,” Koy Kuong said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Reuters: US Embassy fired 32 staff members for sharing pornography

    The United States Embassy in Phnom Penh has fired 32 non-diplomatic staff members who were allegedly caught exchanging pornographic images and video, including of minors, according to the news agency Reuters. Four sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the content was shared in

  • Our 2018 guide to spending Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh

    Khmer New Year festivities are upon us. For the next few days, travellers will be making their way to their home provinces to eat, celebrate, play traditional games and visit a pagoda with offerings. If you will be staying put in Phnom Penh for the

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the