Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Jailed Thais get bail

Jailed Thais get bail

Jailed Thais get bail

Thai detainee Veera Somkwamkid is lead from the Appeal Court following a ruling today that four other detainees would be freed while the Yellow Shirt leader would remain in detention.

Four Thai nationals arrested for trespassing in Banteay Meanchey province last month were released on bail by the Appeal Court today, though Yellow Shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid remains behind bars to await trial in the high-profile case.

Ros Aun, a Cambodian lawyer hired to help represent the group, said the four had posted bail of one million riels (US$247) each and would stay in Cambodia ahead of their trial.

“The court found that they are minor offenders and the law said we could request bail for them,” Ros Aun said.

The four released today were part of a group of seven people – including Panich Vikitsreth, a lawmaker from Thailand’s ruling Democrat Party – who were arrested by Cambodian soldiers in Banteay Meanchey’s O’Chrou district.

They reportedly travelled to the border to “investigate” the demarcation process between Thailand and Cambodia.

All seven have been charged with illegal entry and unlawfully entering a military base, charges that carry a maximum combined sentence of 18 months in prison.

In addition, two members of the group – Veera and his secretary Ratree Taiputana Taiboon, who was released today  – have been charged with espionage, facing potential 10-year jail terms.

The four released today appeared in good spirits as they left the court with Thai Embassy officials.

One member of the group, Saemdin Lertbutr, said they would join Panich and Naruemol Chitwaratana, who were granted bail last week, in staying at the embassy.

“We welcome the Appeal Court decision to grant bail to the four, and as for [Mr] Veera, I think he is in discussion with his lawyers to see whether he will have to appeal to the Supreme Court,” Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said.

Veera struck a defiant tone following the hearing, vowing to seek bail again.

“I will appeal to the Supreme Court. I will fight to the end,” the Bangkok Post quoted Veera as saying.

A trial date has not yet been set for the case, though Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva told Bangkok’s The Nation newspaper on Monday that he was confident it would be settled promptly.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the court is “proceeding on this case in accordance with Cambodia’s immigration law, taking consideration of the current good relations between Cambodia and Thailand without any animosity towards the Thai people”.

Prisoner swap

On Monday, a man who was sentenced to life in prison in Thailand for drug trafficking became the first Cambodian to be returned to the Kingdom under a prisoner swap agreement between the two countries, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said.

“He will serve his jail term [in Cambodia] based on his conviction in Thailand,” Koy Kuong said, adding that three other Cambodians imprisoned in Thailand were expected to be returned soon, following the processing of their cases.

The four Cambodian prisoners, Koy Kuong said, came in exchange for two Thai nationals imprisoned in Cambodia who were returned home in July 2009.

The men – Abdul Azi Haji Chiming and Muhammad Yalaludin Mading – were given life sentences for terrorism after being convicted of involvement in a plot to bomb Western embassies in Phnom Penh in 2003.

The men are said to have ties with the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group, which claimed responsibility for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people.

Thani declined to comment on whether a similar prisoner swap could be used to address Panich’s case, calling the transfers “a separate issue”. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JAMES O’TOOLE


  • Diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will move to annul diplomatic passports issued to those not born in Cambodia. Analysts say the move may be in relation to reports that former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register as

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading

  • Hun Sen warns Irish MP of EBA ‘mistake’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday told former Irish premier Enda Kenny, still a member of the EU nation’s parliament, that the 28-nation bloc should not make a “third mistake” regarding Cambodia by using the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement to “take 16 million

  • PM warns EU and opposition on 34th anniversary of his rule

    HUN Sen reached the milestone of 34 years as Cambodian prime minister on Monday and used the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ring road around Phnom Penh to tell the international community that putting sanctions on the Kingdom meant killing the opposition. “Please don’t forget