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Thailand, Cambodia negotiate prisoner swap
Publication Date : 14-01-2013
The Thai Justice Ministry will seek to have the two nationalists - Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipattana-Paiboon - detained in Cambodia quickly transferred to Thailand while Cambodia wants two of its prisoners sent back in exchange.
Korbkiat Kasiwiwat, deputy director-general of the Corrections Department, said that while those detained for espionage are normally not included, swap negotiations are ongoing through the diplomatic channel and with representatives from the Justice Ministry, police, the Office of the Attorney-General and the Criminal Court, chaired by Justice permanent secretary Kittiphong Kittayarak.
As Ratree had served one-third of her sentence in Cambodia and been given a royal pardon, she was now eligible to return to Thailand, said Korbkiat, while Veera's sentence had been reduced by six months. However, he had not yet served the one-third period of his eight-year sentence, equivalent to two years and 10 months.
Charnchao Chaiyanukij, deputy permanent secretary of Justice, confirmed that Cambodia had requested that two Cambodian prisoners be exchanged for the two Thais.
In a related development, the Democrat Party spokesperson urged the Thai government to pull out from the World Heritage Site Committee to protect Thai sovereignty over the disputed Preah Vihear Temple along the Thai-Cambodian border.
Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, the party's spokesperson, accused the Yingluck Shinawatra administration of not wanting to protect the Kingdom's national sovereignty.
"The stance of the government is not strong in fighting against Cambodia. We want the government to immediately pull out."
Suan Dusit Poll, meanwhile, revealed that a majority of respondents want the government to do its best to protect the dignity and rights of Thailand over the Preah Vihear Temple while they also want the opposition to avoid politicising the issue.
Between January 9 to 12, 1,204 respondents from across the country were asked questions. About 54 per cent said they have some understanding regarding the temple dispute. Only 9 per cent said they did not know anything.
More than 66 per cent said the government should do its best while 14 per cent said the government should consider bilateral relations and the impact of people along the border area.
Asked what the citizens should do, 45 per cent said people should follow the news carefully and not panic.
In another related development, Pheu Thai Party spokesperson Prompong Nopparit denied that the party and the government had sought the release of both Veera and Ratree in exchange for some undue benefits for Cambodia.