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Illegal border crossing accidental, court hears

Illegal border crossing accidental, court hears

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Two Thai men appealed their five-year sentences for illegally crossing the border yesterday, saying they had accidentally stumbled into Cambodia after losing their way.

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Phit Orn Na, 48, and Thorng Dem Yakla, 52, were arrested on May 5, 2010 and charged with an illegal border crossing into Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district as well as illegal weapon possession. They were sentenced by the provincial court that year.  

The accused men told the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh yesterday their houses were five kilometres from the border and claimed they had entered the forest to hunt and had become lost, with no intention of trespassing on Cambodian territory.

“A five-year sentence in jail is so long that it is not reasonable. I entered the forest for hunting. I did not know that was Cambodian land,” Thorng Dem Yakla said.

Judge Khun Leang Meng said he found it hard to believe the two men had been lost, as they lived a far distance from the border.  

Deputy general prosecutor Tith Sothy asked the court to be lenient to the two men, as Cambodia and Thailand were neighbours and the men’s  crossing was unintentional.

Kao Soupha, lawyer for the accused, said his clients probably would not be acquitted but their sentences could be reduced if the court considered their claims and the fact that their guns were home-made.

The verdict will be announced on March 7.

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