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Thais get 18 months for illegal entry

Thais get 18 months for illegal entry

SIEM Reap provincial court has sentenced three Thai nationals from Surin province to 18 months each in jail after convicting them of entering the country illegally and the unlawful possession of weapons.

Heng Kheng, the Siem Reap provincial deputy prosecutor, said yesterday that the court handed down the verdict on Thursday last week. It also ordered the three men to pay an additional fine of 1 million riels (US$250) each.

The verdict was scheduled to be delivered yesterday, but was shifted forward to Thursday, due to the judge being otherwise engaged.

“We could not prolong the day of the announcement of the verdict, so the court decided to move it earlier,” he said.

Sanong Wongcharoen, 36, Lim Puangpet, 39, and Lan Sapsri, 53 – all from Surin province’s Sangkhla district – were arrested on August 18 by authorities in Oddar Meanchey province.

At the time of their arrest, Cambodian soldiers confiscated homemade guns, torches and batteries from the trio, who had strayed around 500 metres inside Cambodian territory.

They were sent to the provincial court August 20 and charged with illegal entry and the illegal use of weapons.

Ly Vengheng, the defence lawyer for the three men, said he will discuss with his clients whether to log an appeal against the conviction.

“I will meet them tomorrow [Tuesday] to discuss it in detail and if they want to file an appeal then I will arrange the documents for them,” Ly Vengheng said.   

The case is a reversal of the usual pattern of events on the Thai-Cambodian border, which has seen a recent rash of arrests and shootings of Cambodian nationals by Thai border guards.

Last month, a 25-year-old migrant worker from Battambang province was shot dead by Thai authorities, prompting an official complaint from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Thai embassy officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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