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Cambodia Grants Amnesty, Reducing Jail Terms for Two Thai Activists



Miss Ratree Pipattanapaiboon and Mr. Veera Somkwamkid


CHIANGRAI TIMES – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has expressed her thanks to the Cambodian government for its cooperation in the case of two Thai activists jailed in Cambodia.

The Prime Minister said that she was informed that the Cambodian government would seek a royal pardon to free Miss Ratree Pipattanapaiboon on 1 February 2013, while Mr. Veera Somkwamkid would be given six months of clemency.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) meets with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra

The Cambodia government made the decision on the occasion of the royal cremation of the late King Norodom Sihanouk, father of the present Cambodian monarch, King Norodom Sihamoni. The royal cremation is scheduled for 4 February 2013.

Miss Ratree and Mr. Veera were arrested on 29 December 2010 along with five other Thais at a border area. Miss Ratree was sentenced to six years in prison and Mr. Veera eight years by the Cambodian court on charges of espionage and illegal entry. Five other Thais were fined and released in January 2011.

Prime Minister Yingluck said that officials had related this good news to the relatives of the two activists, pending official announcement by the Cambodian government. The Prime Minister reaffirmed that she had asked the Cambodian Prime Minister to consider pardoning the two Thais since her first official visit to Cambodia.

She stated that she would continue to request release for Mr. Veera, as it is the duty of the Thai government to look after all Thai nationals. The decision by Cambodia on the two Thai nationals shows good relations between the two countries.

Asked about a planned rally by the Dhammayattra Group on 12-13 January along the Thai-Cambodian border regarding the case of the Temple of Phra Viharn, Prime Minister Yingluck said that she had instructed security agencies, especially the Royal Thai Army, to prevent violence along the border.

Speaking during his official visit to Pakistan, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul confirmed that Cambodia would release Miss Ratree and reduce the jail term for Mr. Veera.

Mr. Surapong explained that the Thai government had made attempts to assist the two Thai activists, including a request for Cambodia to grant them amnesty. In this regard, he said, the Thai government thanked Cambodia for responding to the request.

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