Cambodian king pardons Ratree, cuts Veera's term by 6 months
Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni has pardoned Thai convict Ratree Pipatana-paiboon, effective February 1, exactly two years since she was sentenced on charges of illegal entry and espionage. A fellow Thai prisoner, activist Veera Somkwamkid, will have his sentence cut by six months, Cambodian officials said.
Foreign Minister Surapong Towichuk-chaikul said yesterday that the Thai Embassy was preparing to bring Ratree home from Phnom Penh and that his ministry was contacting her relatives.
Regarding Veera's sentence reduction, Surapong said Thai and Cambodian authorities had not discussed the possibility of allowing Veera to serve his remaining prison term in Thailand.
The Rights and Liberties Protection Department approved Bt60,000 for Veera and Ratree's legal costs, director-general Narat Savetanan said. The funds would cover lawyers' fees but not medical and transportation expenses, he said.
Veera, a leader of the Thailand Patriot Network, and his secretary Ratree were arrested by Cambodian authorities for illegal entry in December 2010.
Meanwhile, Thai protesters were again focused on the border dispute near Preah Vihear Temple. Rally organiser Saman Sringam said the Dharma Yatra group would demonstrate in Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district. Protesters will submit a petition to Si Sa Ket governor voicing their objection for the listing of the temple as a World Heritage Site.
Border resident Thongkham Phantha-wong said villagers from both countries were well aware of the border lines set by the ICJ's 1962 verdict on the temple dispute. He voiced hope that the government would ensure peace but said villagers are prepared for evacuation if a military skirmish breaks out.
Kantharalak district chief Permsak Chaweerak said he had dispatched officials to inform villagers about the border issues ahead of today's rally. He reminded rally organisers that they should be mindful not to stir up sentiment that is harmful to Thai-Cambodian relations.