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Govt might let Thais assess mental state of man who laid mines

Govt might let Thais assess mental state of man who laid mines

CAMBODIA is weighing a request from Thai officials seeking to conduct a mental health assessment of a Thai man convicted of laying land mines along the two countries’ shared border, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Monday.

Koy Kuong said the request had been sent on February 24, though he noted that it did not specify when Thailand wanted to send a medical team to conduct the assessment of Suphap Vong Pakna, who Bangkok has said suffers from unspecified mental health problems.

A military court sentenced Suphap to 20 years in prison last month after he confessed to planting land mines along a contested border area before his arrest in Oddar Meanchey province last year.

“We received the request from the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh on February 25, and now it is still under our consideration,” Koy Kuong said.

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, but officials declined to speculate on that point last week.

Meanwhile, Suphap’s lawyer, Sam Sokong, said a meeting with his client scheduled for Friday, during which they were planning to discuss the possibility of lodging an appeal, had been cancelled because no translator was available.

“I couldn’t meet my client as scheduled on Friday because I was not able to find funds for a Thai translator,” Sam Sokong said. “Now I am planning to write a request to ask for a translator from the military prison authorities.”

Sam Sokong, who works for the legal aid NGO Cambodian Defenders Project, said he had not received any information from Thai officials in Phnom Penh or Bangkok about the request for a mental health assessment.

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