PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA: A Cambodian court on Tuesday sentenced two key activists of a Thai nationalist movement after finding them guilty of espionage.
The court handed down an eight-year jail term and a 1.8 million riel (US$450) fine for Veera Somkwamkid, a key activist, and a six-year jail term and a 1.2 million riel (US$300) fine for his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon. The two activists were found guilty of espionage, illegal entry and trespassing in a military zone. They were told they can appeal within a month.
Somkwamkid denied all charges and said he was detained by Cambodian soldiers on Thai territory on Decemeber 29. Pipattanapaiboon conceded that a recorded video that Cambodian authorities seized and used as evidence for spying charge belonged to her, but said the video recording was not for spying on Cambodian troops.
The two were among the seven Thais, including Democrat member of parliament for Bangkok Panich Vikitsreth, who were arrested December 29 by Cambodian authorities. The five returned to Thailand after the Cambodian court on January 21 ruled that they were guilty of illegal entry and intentionally trespassing into Cambodian territory.
Cambodia and Thailand have been involved in a border dispute since Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. Thailand claims ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the temple. Periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.
(BNO NEWS )