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Veera freedom followed discussion with Prayuth, Cambodia says

The sudden freeing of a yellow-shirt activist from a Cambodian jail came about after junta leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha talked on the phone with Cambodia's premier Hun Sen, Cambodia's Defence Minister Tea Banh said Wednesday.

The release of Veera Somkwamkit, jailed on espionage charges since late 2010, came as a surprise on Tuesday when it was announced during a meeting between Thai acting foreign minister Sihasak Puangketkaew and Hun Sen in Phnom Penh.

Tea Banh said his government and the Thai military junta have held discussions on several issues of which Veera, who was sentenced to eight years in jail on charges of espionage and trespassing in Cambodian territory in December 2010, was one.

The Yingluck Shinawatra government had tried to secure freedom for Veera but to no avail. Other Thais including a Democrat member; Pinit Vikitset, pledged guilty to the charges and received suspended jail terms. Veera refused to pledge guilty and asked for a royal pardon from Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni.

Veera was freed and returned home on Wednesday after being granted a royal pardon.

Meanwhile the Justice Ministry's acting permanent secretary Charnchao Chaiyanukit said Veera's case did not come under the transfer of prisoners agreement and confirmed it was due to the granting of royal pardon.

Veera would therefore not have to serve jail term in Thailand, he said, through he would face trial for his role in the airports seizure in 2008.


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