Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thailand to offer legal advice to man who laid land mines

Thailand to offer legal advice to man who laid land mines

Thailand to offer legal advice to man who laid land mines

100215_02
Thai national Suphap Vong Pakna is led from court on Friday after being sentenced for laying mines in Oddar Meanchey province.

AUTHORITIES in Thailand plan to offer legal advice to a Thai citizen who was convicted of planting land mines in Cambodian territory, a government spokesman said Sunday.

The military court in Phnom Penh on Friday sentenced Suphap Vong Pakna to 20 years in prison on Friday after the man confessed to planting land mines along the contested border with Thailand.

Officials with the Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry have been assigned to offer aid to the convicted man, said Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn, who characterised the offer as the sort of assistance any government would give a citizen who is facing legal action in a foreign country.

“They are looking into what assistance the government is able to provide,” Panitan said.

“They can provide some legal advice, they can contact his family members, and they can help, if needed, select an attorney to help appeal the case.”

Both Cambodia and Thailand are signatories to the Ottawa Treaty, which places strict bans on the use and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines.

To date, Thailand has been unwilling to comment on the case, with Panitan only saying it should be decided through “normal legal channels”.
On Sunday, the spokesman would only reiterate that the convicted man is not currently connected to the Thai military.

“He is not a soldier,” Panitan said.

In testimony earlier this month, Suphap Vong Pakna said that he had been hired by Thai soldiers to plant at least five land mines before he was arrested by authorities in Oddar Meanchey province last February.

Suphap Vong Pakna said he was offered 2,000 baht to 3,000 baht, or roughly US$60 to $90, for each land mine he planted, his court-appointed lawyer said.

On Friday, Military Court Judge Pork Pan found the Thai national guilty on charges including attempted murder, endangering national security and entering the country illegally.

Suphap Vong Pakna, the judge said, tried to “lay mines in an attempt to kill people, create panic and affect national order and cause political instability”.

After the hearing, the man’s Cambodian defence lawyer said the verdict was satisfactory because it fell at the lower end of a range that included a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Defendant a ‘victim’
“The sentence is acceptable because it is a low punishment for such a crime,” said Sam Sokong, a lawyer with the Cambodian Defenders Project, who said he would discuss the possibility of an appeal with his client.

The lawyer had earlier argued for leniency, calling his client a “victim”.

“Due to his poverty and low education, he sacrificed his life for money without knowing that laying mines is criminal.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Rainsy stopped in Paris from boarding Thai flight

    Airline officials at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursday prevented Sam Rainsy from boarding his flight to Bangkok ahead of his announced return to Cambodia on Saturday. Prime Minister Hun Sen had earlier in the day assured Phnom Penh residents that there would be

  • Analyst: Rainsy blocked from boarding flight 'an excuse'

    THAI Airways not allowing Sam Rainsy on its route from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday is being used as an excuse to keep his standing among fellow coup plotters and his uninformed supporters as flights to non-Asean countries are available, an analyst said on Friday.

  • Rainsy lands in Malaysia

    Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport on Saturday afternoon after boarding a flight from Paris, where he has been living for more than four years. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Saturday that Cambodia respected

  • Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

    Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped. “As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand

  • Touch: Rainsy will never return

    Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom. Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle

  • Prayut indicates no entry into Thailand for CNRP’s Rainsy

    Cambodian government officials on Wednesday welcomed the position of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha after he indicated that Sam Rainsy would not be allowed to return to Cambodia through Thailand. “According to our commitment to Asean, we will not interfere in each other’s internal