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Govt calls for Thais to free Cambodian

Govt calls for Thais to free Cambodian

THE Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called on Thailand to immediately release a Cambodian man accused of committing an arson attack on a bank during violent protests in Bangkok last week.

Koy Kuong, the ministry’s spokesman, said Thai authorities arrested the man on Wednesday in the Thai capital while he was standing outside the beverage shop where he worked.

Koy Kuong said the man, a native of Battambang province who is married to a Thai woman and has lived in Bangkok for about five years, had no involvement with the antigovernment Red Shirts.

“We ask the Abhisit government to urgently release him,” he said, and added that the embassy in Bangkok was seeking a lawyer to represent the man.

“We cannot accept such accusations. I think the accusation is meant to make trouble with Cambodia.”

Tith Sothea, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, identified the man as San Mony Phet, 27, and said Thai police claimed to have confiscated a lighter, pieces of clothing and fuel after his arrest.

He denied reports, published by Thailand’s Krung Thep Thurakej Online on Friday, that Cambodians had taken part in the Red Shirt protests.

“No Cambodian people have joined the protests in Bangkok,” he said. “This information is completely exaggerated, which could cause diplomatic relations between the two nations to worsen.”

Australia’s ABC also noted the alleged involvement of a Briton and an unidentified “Asian national” in Bangkok arson attacks last week.

But Thani Thongphakdi, deputy spokesman of the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that he had not heard reports of foreigners’ involvement in last week’s clashes, which left 86 dead and around 1,900 injured.

“I haven’t heard anything specifically,” he said. “Let’s wait until something’s clear.”

The Cambodian government has warned its citizens to avoid travel to Bangkok since the protests started in mid-February.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JAMES O’TOOLE

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