PAD to govt: Bring back 2 Thais in 3 days
By The Nation
The People's Alliance for Democracy Wednesday gave an ultimatum to the government to bring back two jailed Thais from Cambodia in three days.
The PAD threatened to intensify its protest if the government fails to bring back Veera Somkwamkid, a leader of the Thai Patriots Network, and Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, a Thai reporter, from Cambodia within three days.
PAD spokesman Parnthep Puapongphan said the PAD would urge the people to join a mass protest at the Makkhawan Bridge on Saturday to decide the government's fate if the 3-day deadline is not met.
On Tuesday, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court found Veera and Ratree guilty of espionage, illegal entry and trespassing in a military zone. These charges carry a maximum combined penalty of 11 years and six months.
Veera was sentenced to eight years behind bars and a fine of 1.8 million riel (about Bt18,000), while Ratree was given six years and fined 1.2 million riel (Bt12,000).
The two were among seven Thais arrested on December 29 while allegedly inspecting disputed border territory. The five other members of the group, including Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth, received suspended sentences for illegal entry on January 21 and have since returned home.
"We will give the government three days. On Saturday, we will invite the people to gather at the Makkhawan Bridge. If the government fails to solve the problem, we will ask the people to make a decision as to how the government should be held responsible. We will ask the people to make a decision in the evening," Parnthep said.
Praphan Khoonmee, another PAD spokesman, alleged that the Thai government collaborated with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to have Veera detained.
Praphan noted that the Thai government sought the release of five other Thais before Veera and Ratrere were given the jail terms.
Praphan also alleged that the Cambodian court acted against the two under the order of Hun Sen.
"We will intensify the protest to demand the [Thai] prime minister to take responsibility. The prime minister has already run out legitimacy to rule," Praphan said.
PAD co-leader Chamlong Srimuang said it was the fault of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva that caused the two Thais to be jailed.
"We will ask the people how the government should be held responsible. So far, we won't say yet as to whether we will demand the government's ouster or not," Chamlong said.
-- The Nation 2011-02-02