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Thai civil court throws out suit on Preah Vihear ‘rights’

Thai civil court throws out suit on Preah Vihear ‘rights’

Meanwhile, officials say a planned nationalist protest near Preah Vihear this weekend will not be allowed to encroach on Cambodian territory.

THAILAND’S Civil Court has thrown out a lawsuit filed by a group of Thai academics accusing senior Cambodian government officials of “abusing the rights” of the Thai people in their continuing spat over Preah Vihear temple.

The suit, lodged by academic Thepmontri Limpaphayom and eight other Thai scholars, accused Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, his deputy Sok An and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong of violating the Thai people’s rights and liberties under the Thai constitution by encroaching on Preah Vihear temple and the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area around the temple ruins.

The suit also requested that the court order Cambodia to withdraw its troops from the area.

The Bangkok Post reported on Tuesday that the court had rejected the suit, citing the court’s opinion that the issue was a dispute between two countries over the sovereignty of the area and was not a matter for a civil court.

Koy Kuong, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Tuesday that he was not aware of the lawsuit, but that the outcome was not a surprise.

“I do not know, but I think that if the court rejected the suit, it means that the group of Thai academics did something wrong,” he said.

Protest threat
The rejection of the lawsuit comes as members of the yellow-shirted Peoples’ Alliance for Democracy (PAD) prepare to travel to Preah Vihear temple on Saturday to protest against its July 2008 listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and demand its “return” to Thailand.

Cambodian Ministry of Defence spokesman Chhum Socheat said Thai troops stationed in front of Preah Vihear temple confirmed that PAD plans to call a rally this week to demand the removal of Cambodian troops and communities from the area but said the Thais had promised the protesters would not be allowed into disputed areas.

“I met with the Thai troops in front of the Preah Vihear temple, and they told me that they would not allow the Thai protesters to enter the area near Preah Vihear temple, and they told us not to worry,” he said.

He said that Cambodian border troops would not be careless because of suspicions the protesters could include extremists who might try to provoke a fight.

“We have no intention of an armed conflict that would affect the good relationship between the two countries, but we have to prepare a strategy for preventing encroachments, and we [warn] any protester [against trying] to violate the sovereignty of Cambodian territory,” Chhum Socheat said.

Meanwhile, Thai officials have disavowed any links with the PAD protesters, saying the protest would be “not helpful” to the resolution of the border dispute.

“I don’t know what the PAD’s intentions are. They can gather and express their feelings, but they should be careful of being at odds with the Cambodian side,” the Bangkok Post quoted Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban as saying.

“Everyone loves their country, and I would like everyone not to exacerbate the situation.”

Koy Kuong confirmed that the Thai government had expressed its commitment not to support the rally.

“I think that the Thai government will have the political will to prevent the rally from happening on Cambodian territory,” he said.


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