Two Thai detainees, Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, will today appear at the Court of Appeal for a much-anticipated hearing over their conviction by a lower court of espionage.
Appeal court Judge Samrith Sophal confirmed that he will lead a hearing of the case as scheduled.
“I cannot make any comment right now, but it will take place tomorrow,” Samrith Sophal told the Post.
Veera, a leader of the Yellow Shirts, or People’s Alliance for Democracy, and his secretary Ratree were sentenced to eight and six years in jail, respectively, by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in February on charges of illegal entry, entering a restricted military base and espionage.
Both were arrested on December 29, 2010, along with five others, including Democrat Party MP Panich Vikitsreth, after they crossed the border from Thailand into Banteay Meanchey province to inspect the border-demarcation process.
Five were released after the court suspended their sentences of nine months in jail.
Ros Aun, lawyer for the two Thai detainees, said his clients will appear at the court for questioning as to whether or not they will appeal, denying that it would be a trial. “The court just wants to know whether they will appeal or not. It is not a trial,” he said.
Veera and Ratree will appear in court just one day before a two-day visit to Cambodia by Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and Thai Minister of Energy Pichai Naripthaphan.
The government of former Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva tried unsuccessfully several times to secure the release of the pair, now in Prey Sar prison, by requesting a Royal pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni via Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said that he was unaware of whether the case of Veera and Ratree would be discussed at the meeting between Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and his Thai counterpart.
Prime Ministers Hun Sen and Yingluck Shinawatra “have clearly stated that the case of Veera and Ratree should be resolved by the law of Cambodia”, he said, adding: “It is the job of the court.”