Monday, 23 November 2009

Chavalit: P.Penh banning Thai trawlers



Published: 23/11/2009

(CAAI News Media)

The Cambodian government has banned Thai fishermen from its territorial waters, opposition Puea Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh claimed on Monday.

He said more than 1,000 Thai trawlers which normally fish there were being prevented from entering Cambodia's territorial waters.

He called on the Thai government to end this problem quickly, as many people's livelihoods wewre being affected.

"I don't know whether the problem has come about because of the Thai-Cambodian diplomatic row, and I don't want to make any predictions," Gen Chavalit said. "Former prime minister [Thaksin Shinawatra] and I are not the cause of the Thai-Cambodian row."

He said he was prepared to support the government in its efforts to help the Thai man arrested in Cambodia for alleged spying.

"If the government fails to resolve it, I am ready to give a hand since I've made a promise to the man's mother that I will help him and ensure his safety," he said.

On Nov 11, the Cambodian government arrested Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS) employee Siwarak Chutipong for allegedly stealing state secrets - Thaksin's flight plans - and posing a threat to national security.

Mekong artists gather in Cambodia to celebrate regional arts festival


2009-11-23

(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- Some 200 delegates from the arts and media circle in the Mekong sub-region gathered on Monday here in the Cambodian capital to celebrate the vibrant culture and tradition along the Mekong River.

In the course of five days, artists from Cambodia, China, Laos,Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam will demonstrate through workshops, performances, forum, conference, film shows, vitual arts and their understanding of life in the era of globalization and economic integration.

Vietnam Youth Theater, Thailand's Wandering Moon, Crescent Moon and Khanda Arts, Myanmar's Mandalay Marionettes Troupe, Laos'Kabong Lao, China's Nengguan Performing Arts & Training Center, and the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) will be joined by artists from the Philippines, Japan, Singapore and Indonesia, to give their creative take on the challenging realities in the region.

"The Mekong Arts and Media Festival 2009 is a unique and important occasion as there are opportunities to provide meaningful exchanges among Mekong artists and advocates from various countries. It is a convergence of people, cultures and visions for a better society," said Lea Espallardo, festival co-director in her opening speech.

According to Espallardo, this convergence allows people to reach out to one another and share a deeper understanding of the various challenges they confront and on how to harness arts and creativity to effect change.

One of the highlights of the festival, which has a theme of "Weaving Cultures, Weaving Visions", will be a Children and Youth Bloc running in parallel to the main festival to present children's own stories and aspirations. The Bloc, designed with the help of Save the Children UK, and international charity for children, and PETA's own children and youth programs, is aimed to provide children and young people with participation opportunities and get their voices heard.

The region along Mekong River, which has its origin from China's Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, has become a dynamic area in Asia, with an increasing number of people migrating every year across borders as a result of convenient intra-country transport. Regional trade and economic cooperation is also on the rise as a result of globalization.

In recognition of the role of arts and creative media in development efforts, the Philippine Educational Theater Association's Mekong Partnership Project, Phare Ponleu Selpak, Save the Children UK's Cross Border Project, and the Center for Community Health Research & Development join hands in organizing the festival, drawing the creative talents in the Mekong region to work for advocacy and social transformation.

The festival is supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, European Union, Japan Foundation, Heinrich Boell Foundation-Southeast Asia, Terres des Hommes and Ambassade au France de Cambodge.

Editor: Lin Zhi

Lawyer seeks bail for alleged Thai spy



Published: 23/11/2009

(CAAI News Media)

Lawyer for Sivarak Chutipong, a Thai engineer who was arrested by the Cambodian authorities on charges of stealing flight schedule of Thaksin Shinawatra and supplied it to the Thai embassy, filed a bail request for him to a Cambodian court on Monday, Foreign minister's secretary Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said on Monday.

It usually take a Cambodian court about 10 days to consider whether to grant a bail or not, he said.

Mr Chavanond said it would be up to the Cambodian court whether to grant the bail.

He refused to say when Mr Sivarak would get bail, adding that government spokesman Panithan Wattanayakorn's comment that Mr Sivarak could be granted bail in the next 10 days was his personal opinion.

Kao Soupha, the Cambodian lawyer for Mr Sivarak, said the bail request was filed to the Cambodian court on Monday morning, and assured the court that Mr Sivarak would not return to Thailand before his trial.

According to Mr Kao, Mr Sivarak had confessed to court officials that he told a Thai diplomat about Thaksin's flight.

"Sivarak said he reported the information because the Thai diplomat asked him for it," he said.

Mr Sivarak informed the Thai official after Thaksin's private jet landed two weeks ago, and had not known that Thaksin was in that plane, he added.

But the lawyer said that his client said the information was not secret and not stolen.

Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said on Monday that the government would seek the extradition of Mr Sivarak to serve out his punishment in Thailand if the Cambodian court finds him guilty,

But Mr Pirapan said he was certain that Mr Sivarak was innocent.

Justice deputy permanent secretary Thawee Sodsong and chief of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department Suwanna Suwanchuta will travel to Cambodia on Monday evening to visit Mr Sivarak, he said. The two senior officials would also request a meeting with the Cambodian justice minister to discuss the legal aspects of the case.

Mr Sivarak must receive fair treatment from Cambodian law, which must conform to international legal standards, he added.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva assured that Mr Sivarak's mother would be able to visit her son at a Cambodian court this week.

He also said opposition Puea Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh's comment about the Cambodian government banning Thai fishermen from entering its territorial waters is just a joke.

"The Cambodian government is appointing a new governor of Kong Island, causing a slight delay in issuing permits to Thai trawlers," Mr Abhisit said.

The closure had nothing to do with the Thai-Cambodian diplomatic relations, he said.

Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the Foreign Ministry, the Internal Security Operations Command and other relevant agencies had already looked into the matter.

The Kong Island governor's appointment must be finalised before permits can be issued again, Mr Panitan said.

"All sides, including the Thai navy, have affirmed that this is a transitional period and it would not take long," he said.

He said the government will see what it can do so the Cambodian counterpart can issue permits to the fishermen promptly, but it would have to wait until the governor's appointment is completed.

Asked if the government is concerned that Cambodia may decide to close its territorial waters longer than usual, he said both sides had cooperated well on the operational level.

Different ministries from the two countries had been working together smoothly, he added.

He said officials from the foreign and justice ministries will travel to Phnom Penh in the next few days to seek ways for the Cambodian government to release the Thai engineer, Sivarak Chutipong, who was arrested on a spying charge earlier this month.

On the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's daughter plan to hold shares in Cambodia Traffic Air Services, Mr Panitan said the government will not comment on Cambodia's internal issues.

"Changes of shareholders are normal in all companies in every country and the Thai government will not comment on Cambodia's internal affairs. This is not an important issue for us," he said.

He said the government hoped that the Cambodian government would continue to facilitate Thai companies and investors in Cambodia as usual, as these investments would bring about progress and benefits to the people of Cambodia.

Navy chief Khamthon Phumhiran reaffirmed that Thai fishermen could not enter Cambodia's territorial waters at the moment was due to the appointment of a new governor of Kong Island.

"The Thai-Cambodian political dispute is not related to the closure of Cambodia' maritime territory," Adm Khamthon said.

He said it should be opened soon after the governor's appointment is completed.

Thailand denies access to Cambodian waters closed



(CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK, Nov 23 (TNA) - Thai government on Monday said Cambodia has not blocked the entry of Thai fishing boats into its territorial waters, as earlier claimed by opposition Puea Thai Party chairman Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh.

Gen Chavalit, a former Thai premier, earlier said about one thousand of Thai trawlers and fishing boats were not allowed to enter the Cambodian waters to make their living after the Cambodian government ordered the closure of its territorial waters.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Monday denied Gen Chavalit's remarks, saying that the matter is untrue as concerned authorities has not verified that the news is true.

Panitan Wattanaykorn, acting government spokesman said he has verified the matter with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) and the Royal Thai Navy and has been reaffirmed that the waters were not closed as reported.

He reasoned that the Thai trawlers cannot enter Cambodian waters because their licences had expired and it will take time to renew the licence as the governor of Cambodia's Kong Island has just been changed.

"The prime minister has instructed concerned agencies to coordinate and facilitate the Thai fishing boats," said Mr Panitan. "I reaffirmed that the blocking of Thai trawlers into Cambodian waters has nothing to do with recent diplomatic spat of the two kingdoms as Thai boats with licences are still allowed to enter the areas."

Mr Panitan added that relations between Thailand and Cambodia have gradually improved. Indicating that Thailand’s assistant to the justice minister met with his Cambodian counterpart and received a warm welcome from the Cambodian deputy prime minister.

The spokesman, however, declined to comment on the latest news report that a daughter of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen planned to hold shares in Thai-owned Cambodia Traffic Air Services (CATS) after the Cambodian government temporarily took over management of the firm.

Dr Panitan said only that he was aware of the story from news reports, but that the Thai government has a clear stance not to comment on Cambodia's domestic affairs and has reiterated the stance with all spokespersons of the Thai ministries.

Diplomatic row between Thailand and Cambodia flared up when the Cambodian government appointed fugitive Thai former premier Thaksin Shinwatra as its economic adviser and personal adviser to Mr Hun Sen, while rejecting Thailand's extradition request regarding Mr Thaksin.

The ambassadors of the two countries were recalled, while Thailand terminated the joint memorandum of understanding (MoU) on maritime affairs which included shared access to undersea mineral resources.

Cambodia then arrested a Thai engineer working at CATS on spy charges after he was found releasing Mr Thaksin’s flight details and expelled the Thai first secretary to Phnom Penh. (TNA)

Q+A-Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal



23 Nov 2009
Source: Reuters

(CAAI News Media)

Nov 23 (Reuters) - Closing arguments began on Monday in the trial of Pol Pot's chief torturer, the first for a top Khmer Rouge cadre 30 years after the end of a regime blamed for 1.7 million deaths in Cambodia.

Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity while chief of the S-21 torture centre, where more than 14,000 died during the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge era. [ID:nBKK491919]

Below are some questions and answers about the tribunal:

WHY HAS IT TAKEN SO LONG FOR THE TRIALS TO START?

Cambodia asked the United Nations and the international community to help set up a tribunal more than a decade ago, but the government sought to retain control of the court. The plan languished for years, with draft laws flying back and forth.

The U.N. gave the go-ahead for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, as the joint tribunal is known, in 2005.

The trial, originally expected to cost around $20 million a year over three years, was delayed by bail hearings, appeals and pre-trial machinations. The tribunal asked donors for a $143 million budget to run until 2010.

Many Cambodians have expressed frustration over the slow pace of bringing justice to Khmer Rouge leaders [ID:nBKK474664].

HOW DOES THE JOINT TRIBUNAL WORK?

Conducted under a modified form of Cambodia's French-based judicial system, Cambodian and foreign judges and prosecutors will work together and try to reach unanimous decisions. If they cannot all agree, then a decision requires a "super-majority".

The Trial Chamber of three Cambodian and two foreign judges requires four to agree on a verdict. The seven-judge Supreme Court Chamber -- comprising four Cambodians and three foreigners handling appeals -- must have five judges in agreement.

Sentences can range from a minimum five years to a maximum of life in prison. There is no death penalty in Cambodia. The court can also seize money or property acquired unlawfully.

WHO HAS BEEN CHARGED SO FAR?

Duch is among five ageing and infirm senior cadres facing various charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Trial dates have not been set for ex-president Khieu Samphan, former foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith, and "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea.

Pol Pot died in 1998 and there are fears that his surviving allies will die of old age before they face trial.

WILL ANYONE ELSE BE INVESTIGATED?

Cambodia's prosecutor opposed a bid by her foreign counterpart to go after six more suspects, citing the need for national reconciliation. Critics saw a political move to stop the court from digging too deep and perhaps unearthing secrets about some former Khmer Rouge figures in the government.

More broadly, some critics say the role of the United States and China in supporting Pol Pot's regime should also be probed.

The court says it can only try individuals for crimes committed in Cambodia between April 17, 1975 and Jan. 6, 1979, and cannot try countries or organisations.

HOW WILL IT AFFECT CAMBODIANS?

Survivors hope the trials will bring closure to their grief, and mark a new era of peace and justice. They also hope it will educate young Cambodians about an era they know little about.

But some say its integrity is already threatened.

The Documentation Centre of Cambodia, which collects evidence of Khmer Rouge crimes and estimates about five million survivors of the regime are still alive, accuses the tribunal of failing to invest enough time and resources to properly interview 93 regime victims known as civil parties ahead of the trial.

That's led to problems, it says. Each civil party has a right to a lawyer, to call witnesses and to ask questions. But some of those lawyers have tied up proceedings with repetitive or irrelevant questions, slowing the trial.

The tribunal has responded by saying it would streamline victim participation for its next four cases. Most experts say that will likely mean fewer victims involved in the testimony.

"Despite seemingly good intentions, the court's attempt to include victims as civil parties in an international criminal trial has failed," Youk Chhang, the Centre's director, wrote in a recent newspaper editorial. "The judges now stand ready to substantially reduce or eliminate the role of civil parties in advance of the second trial," he added. (Reporting by Darren Schuettler and Jason Szep; Editing by Alan Raybould) ((jason.szep@thomsonreuters.com; +66 2 648 9720. Reuters messaging jason.szep.reuters.com@reuters.net))

Senior justice officials to meet Sivarak



Published: 23/11/2009

(CAAI News Media)

The government would seek the extradition of Sivarak Chutipong, the Thai engineer working at Cambodia Air Traffic Services who is accused of spying, to serve out his punishment in Thailand if the Cambodian court finds him guilty, Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said on Monday.

But Mr Pirapan said he was certain that Mr Sivarak was innocent.

Justice deputy permanent secretary Thawee Sodsong and chief of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department Suwanna Suwanchuta will travel to Cambodia on Monday evening to visit Mr Sivarak, he said. The two senior officials would also request a meeting with the Cambodian justice minister to discuss the legal aspects of the case.

Mr Sivarak must receive fair treatment from Cambodian law, which must conform to international legal standards, he added.

Patriot games 'are damaging'



Don't revoke Cambodia accords, say academics

Published: 23/11/2009

(CAAI News Media)
The government's move to revoke memorandums of understanding with Cambodia could put Thailand at a disadvantage, leading academics say.

The government should not let a mounting sense of patriotism influence its decision to nullify any MoU with Cambodia, said Puangthong Pawakapan, an international relations lecturer at Chulalongkorn University. She said taking such action could do more harm than good to the nation.

Two agreements have been much discussed, she said, adding one was signed during the Chuan Leekpai administration and the other during the Thaksin Shinawatra government.

The first MoU deals with survey and demarcation of land boundaries, and the second with the overlapping continental shelf area. If the first MoU is torn up, Mrs Puangthong said, any agreement on the survey and demarcation of land boundaries - which both sides have tried to negotiate for many years - would be scrapped.

The revocation of this MoU would inevitably result in a domino effect on another MoU Thailand has reached with Laos, she said. And if the second MoU is also revoked, Thailand could lose current territorial rights over Koh Kut island because Cambodia's acknowledgement of the Thai rights is part of this MoU, she said.

The termination of the MoU on the overlapping maritime boundary is awaiting parliamentary approval after the cabinet resolved on Nov 10 to have it revoked.

"We should not be tempted to resolve Thai-Cambodian conflicts by means of politics ... and we should get rid of the old attitude that Thailand is superior to Cambodia," she said.

Charnwit Kasetsiri, a former Thammasat University rector, said he hoped Thais who still believed Cambodia relied heavily on Thailand as it had in the past would change their attitudes.

Cambodia has now formed cooperation with many other countries since the day the Thai-Cambodian border dispute erupted, Mr Charnwit said.

Cambodia has developed cooperation with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) about having the Preah Vihear temple listed as a World Heritage site and sought economic cooperation with China, Japan and Korea, he said.

Mr Charnwit said if the rift between Thailand and Cambodia drags on, the former could lose hundreds of millions of baht in investment opportunities.

Alleged Thai spy files bail request in Cambodia: lawyer


Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) talks to former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra (L) in Siem Reap province, in mid-November. The lawyer for a Thai national held on charges of spying on Thaksin said he filed a bail request to a Cambodian court Monday. (AFP/File/Tang Chhin Sothy)


(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – The lawyer for a Thai national held on charges of spying on fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra said he filed a bail request to a Cambodian court Monday.

Siwarak Chothipong, 31, an employee at the Cambodia Air Traffic Service, was arrested on charges of supplying details of Thaksin's flight schedule to his country's embassy when the Thai tycoon visited Phnom Penh earlier this month.

His arrest deepened a diplomatic crisis between the neighbouring countries over Cambodia's appointment of Thaksin as an economic adviser and its refusal to extradite the ousted prime minister to Bangkok.

"I filed the bail request with the court this morning, and we assured the court that Siwarak will not return to Thailand before his trial," his Cambodian attorney Kao Soupha said.

The lawyer said Siwarak had confessed to court officials that he leaked information about Thaksin's flight to a Thai diplomat.

"Siwarak said he reported the information because the Thai diplomat asked him for it," Kao Soupha said.

Siwarak informed the Thai official after Thaksin's private jet landed, and had not known the ex-premier was in the plane, he added.

But the lawyer told AFP that his client said the information was not secret and not stolen.

Cambodia expelled the first secretary of Thailand's embassy in Phnom Penh after alleging that Siwarak had passed information to the diplomat. Thailand reciprocated hours later.

Both countries earlier this month withdrew their respective ambassadors in the dispute over Thaksin's appointment.

All Thai air traffic control staff were last week suspended from the Thai-owned civil aviation company, which oversees Cambodian air space, after a Cambodian government official was appointed temporary caretaker of the firm.

Thaksin was toppled in a coup in 2006 and is living abroad to avoid a two-year jail term for corruption, but he has stirred up protests in his homeland against the current Thai government over the past year.

Angered by his presence in Cambodia, Thailand put all talks and cooperation programmes with Cambodia on hold and tore up an oil and gas exploration deal signed during Thaksin's time in power.

Tensions were already high between the two countries following a series of deadly military clashes over disputed territory near an 11th century temple on their shared border.

KRouge jail chief accused of crocodile tears


File photo of Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, a former Khmer Rouge prison chief who is accused of overseeing the torture and execution of some 15,000 people at Tuol Sleng prison, in the courtroom of the Extraodinary Chambers in in Phnom Penh. Duch, 67, has repeatedly used hearings to publicly ask for forgiveness. (AFP/File/Mak Remissa)

 by Patrick Falby

(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Lawyers for Khmer Rouge victims Monday accused the regime's jailer of duping Cambodia's war crimes court with "crocodile tears" as he faces final arguments over "Killing Fields" atrocities.

Former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav -- better known as Duch -- has apologised repeatedly for his role in the horrors of the hardline communist regime, which killed up to two million people three decades ago.

But civil lawyers representing 93 victims of the Tuol Sleng prison at the UN-backed court argued that Duch had failed to acknowledge the full extent of his guilt, as his trial entered its closing week.

Attorney Kong Pisey told judges that Duch had sought "to cleverly evade responsibility when it suits him" and wept "crocodile tears" in the dock.

"The cooperation with the court and his pretended truthful admissions is half-hearted," Kong Pisey said, speaking through an official translator.

"However the accused's defence strategy of denying any personal involvement of torture, killing and arrest is unsuccessful."

Lawyers used part of the day's hearings to recount how Tuol Sleng prisoners were beaten, electrocuted and then executed.

"Your honours must objectively, we say, review the evidence to determine whether or not what has been accepted by the accused amounts to full disclosure and the full truth," lawyer Karim Khan told judges.

The prosecution is scheduled to begin presenting its arguments Tuesday.

Duch, who wore a white turtleneck sweater as he watched Monday's proceedings from the dock, is expected to apologise again this week as his defence bids to lessen his sentence.

Since his trial began in February, Duch, 67, has repeatedly asked for forgiveness for overseeing the murders of around 15,000 men, women and children at the S-21 or Tuol Sleng prison, a former high school.

He is charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and premeditated murder, and faces a maximum term of life in prison by the tribunal, which does not have the power to impose the death penalty.

A verdict is expected early next year.

Hundreds of Cambodians attended the specially built courtroom on the outskirts of Phnom Penh on Monday to watch Duch, who sat behind a huge bullet-proof screen to prevent possible revenge attacks.

This week's proceedings will be broadcast live by all Cambodian television stations, court officials said.

Tuol Sleng prison was at the heart of the Khmer Rouge security apparatus and inmates were taken from there during Duch's tenure for execution at nearby Choeung Ek, an orchard now known as the "Killing Fields".

Led by "Brother Number One" Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge was responsible for one of the worst horrors of the 20th century, wiping out nearly a quarter of the population through starvation, overwork and execution.

Rising to power as a tragic spin-off from the US conflict in Vietnam, the movement emptied Cambodia's cities to take society back to a rural "Year Zero", purging city dwellers, intellectuals and even people who wore glasses.

Vietnamese-backed forces ended the four-year Khmer Rouge reign of terror in 1979, but the movement pursued a civil war until 1998. Pol Pot died in that year.

Duch has been detained since 1999, when he was found working as a Christian aid worker in the jungle, and was formally arrested by the tribunal in July 2007.

The court has faced controversy over allegations of interference by the government and claims that Cambodian staff paid bribes for their jobs.

The joint trial of four other more senior Khmer Rouge leaders is expected to start in 2011.

The court is also investigating whether to open more cases against five other former Khmer Rouge cadres after a dispute between the international and Cambodian co-prosecutors over whether to pursue more suspects.

Thai govt check report that Cambodia closed waters


Mon, November 23, 2009

(CAAI News Media)

Thai government on Monday assigns authorities concerned to check Pheu Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh's claim that Cambodia closed territorial waters for Thai fishing boats.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said he just learnt of Chavalit's claim.

"Authorities concerned are checking accuracy of the report," Suthep said.

Chavalit earlier told reporters that Cambodia's waters were sealed off for unknown reason.

"I just learnt that Cambodia decided to seal off its territorial waters for Thai fishing boats. About 1,000 Thai boats had fished in the Khmer waters," he said.

He was not sure the reason of the closing. "It may cause by some conflicts. We should not make a speculation on the matter," Chavalit said.

Chavalit said the government will have to check the accuracy of the report.

Thailand and Cambodia have been in conflicts for weeks after the latter's appointment of ex-Thai Thaksin Shinawatra as economic adviser to Khmer PM and his government.

During Thaksin's visit to Phnom Penh last week, Cambodia expelled Thai first secretary of the embassy and arrested a Thai engineer working in Phnom Penh on charge of spying.

Referring to arrest of a Thai engineer, Chavalit said we should support the government which has tried its best to secure freedom of the engineer.

He will wait for the government's decision before looking into the matter.

Chavalit's Monday statement on the matter was opposite to what he said last week. Chavalit had said he would fly to Phnom Penh to pick up the engineer as he was expected to be freed after ex-Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra stepped in by talking with Khmer PM Hun Sen.

TIMESONLINE REFUSES TO RELEASE THAKSIN INTERVIEW TAPE TO THAILAND




November 23, 2009

(CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK, Nov 22 (TNA) -- A British daily has “unofficially” turned down a request by the Thai government to hand over its taped interview with fugitive, ousted former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra earlier this month which is thought to contain material considered offensive to the monarchy, according to Minister attached to the Prime Minister’s Office Satit Wonghnongtaey.

Speaking to the media on Sunday, Mr. Satit said the daily did not provide a reason why it could not provide the taped interview of Mr. Thaksin and said only that it was its right not to comply with the request. Mr. Satit said he had again ordered officials to send a request again and ask the daily to “reply officially” as the article had hurt the feelings of the Thai people.

The interview was conducted in Dubai where Mr. Thaksin is staying in self-imposed exile and was conducted by Richard Lloyd Parry, a British foreign correspondent who is Tokyo-based Asia editor of The Times of London.

The ex-premier, ousted in a bloodless coup in September 2006, has said his interview was “distorted” by the reporter.

Mr. Thaksin was sentenced in absentia in October last year by a Bangkok court to two years imprisonment for abuse of power by helping his then wife acquiring a parcel of prime Bangkok commercial property at a price far below its market value. (TNA)

HCMC, delta provinces to show off tourism potential in Cambodia




Monday ,Nov 23,2009

(CAAI News Media)

The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta provinces of Kien Giang and An Giang will organize a tourism promotion program in Cambodia from December 7 to 9.


The event, to be held in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, will showcase the images of the two provinces and HCM City and highlight HCM City’s tourism destinations.

Vietnamese travel firms will also have a chance to meet Cambodian authorities to seek investment in transportation, real estate, and tourism.

Cambodia's Duch trial nears end


Duch was detained in 1999, when he was found working as a Christian aid worker in the jungle [AFP]


Monday, November 23, 2009
(CAAI News Media)

Cambodia's Khmer Rouge war crimes court has begun the final arguments in its first trial, bringing the regime's prison chief closer to justice for the "Killing Fields" atrocities 30 years ago.

Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, has apologised for his role in the horrors of the hardline communist regime, in which he oversaw the murders of around 15,000 men, women and children.

Up to two million people died during the brutal rule of Pol Pot between 1975-79, wiping out nearly a quarter of the population through starvation, overwork and execution.

Civil lawyers representing the victims argued on Monday that Duch had failed to acknowledge the full extent of his guilt.

"Your honours must objectively, we say, review the evidence to determine whether or not what has been accepted by the accused amounts to full disclosure and the full truth," lawyer Karim Khan told judges.

"In large and important material particulars, even today, the accused has sought to evade or minimise his role and the awful reality that was S-21 [prison] and the regime that operated there and the fate and suffering that befell so many civil parties that we all represent."

The prosecution is scheduled to begin presenting its arguments on Tuesday and processdings are due to conclude on Friday.

Pleading for forgiveness

Since his trial began in February, Duch, 67, has repeatedly asked for forgiveness for the deaths at S-21 prison, a former high school also called Tuol Sleng.

He is charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and premeditated murder, and faces a maximum term of life in prison by the tribunal, which does not have the power to impose the death penalty.

A verdict is expected early next year.

Hundreds of Cambodians attended the specially built courtroom on the outskirts of Phnom Penh on Monday, watching Duch, who sat behind a huge bulletproof screen to prevent possible revenge attacks.


Hundreds of Cambodians have attended the trial [AFP]

This week's proceedings will be broadcast live by all Cambodian television stations, court officials said.

Tuol Sleng prison was at the heart of the Khmer Rouge security apparatus and inmates were taken from there during Duch's tenure for execution at nearby Choeung Ek, an orchard now known as the "Killing Fields".

Led by "Brother Number One" Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge was responsible for one of the worst horrors of the 20th century.

Rising to power as a tragic spin-off from the US conflict in Vietnam, the movement emptied Cambodia's cities to take society back to a rural "Year Zero," purging city dwellers and intellectuals.

The Khmer Rouge was ousted by Vietnamese-backed forces after a reign of terror lasting almost four years, but continued to fight a civil war until 1998. Pol Pot died in the same year.

Duch has been detained since 1999, when he was found working as a Christian aid worker in the jungle, and was formally arrested by the tribunal in July 2007.

The court has faced controversy over allegations of interference by the government and claims that Cambodian staff paid bribes for their positions at the court.

The joint trial of four other more senior Khmer Rouge leaders is expected to start in 2011.

The court is also investigating whether to open more cases against five other former Khmer Rouge cadres after a dispute between the international and Cambodian co-prosecutors over whether to pursue more suspects.

S Korean university provides 20 scholarships for Cambodia: official


2009-11-23

(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- Seoul Women's University of South Korea has provided 20 scholarships for Cambodian woman students to study four-year program for human resource development in the country, an official to Prime Minister Hun Sen said here on Monday.

Seoul Women's University of South Korea showed their commitment to continue their support for women education and human development for Cambodia, Eang Sophallet, a assistant to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told reporters after Premier Hun Sen met with Rhee Kwang-ja, president of Seoul Women's University at National Assembly.

During the meeting, Hun Sen said that the support from the university of South Korea will help contribute to promote gender and human resource development in the country, and that Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport of Cambodia will work with the university to select high qualified women students to study in the university.

In June this year, the 55-year-old Bun Rany Hun Sen, wife of Premier Hun Sen received an honorary doctorate in economics from Seoul Women's University in recognition of her outstanding contribution to women's rights and social welfare in her country. As chairperson of the Cambodian Red Cross since 1998, Bun Rany has been engaged in fighting poverty and AIDS, as well as helping civil war orphans in her country.

Editor: Li Xianzhi

Cambodian's reunion with elephant




Monday, November 23, 2009

(CAAI News Media)

Cambodia's Khmer Rouge was responsible for the deaths of an estimated two million people from 1975-79, and millions more were left with deep mental and physical scars.

Sin Son was one of them.

He lost several of his relatives in the mass slaughter but one very special companion, an elephant named Sambo, survived.

Sin Son told Al Jazeera of his reunion with his childhood friend after many years apart.

Cambodia set for final arguments in KRouge jail chief trial


File photo of Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, a former Khmer Rouge prison chief who is accused of overseeing the torture and execution of some 15,000 people at Tuol Sleng prison, in the courtroom of the Extraodinary Chambers in in Phnom Penh. Duch, 67, has repeatedly used hearings to publicly ask for forgiveness. (AFP/File/Mak Remissa)


by Patrick Falby

(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Cambodia's Khmer Rouge war crimes court on Monday begins final arguments in its first trial, bringing the regime's prison chief closer to justice for the "Killing Fields" atrocities 30 years ago.

Kaing Guek Eav -- better known as Duch -- has apologised for his role in the horrors of the hardline communist regime, which killed up to two million people. However, lawyers this week will argue about the extent of his guilt.

"We want to lead them back to the evidence to remind them again of the magnitude of the abuses and the reality of Duch's role in them," prosecutor Bill Smith told AFP.

For Cambodians, the controversial tribunal, established in 2006 after nearly a decade of negotiations between Cambodia and the United Nations, is the last chance to find justice for the Khmer Rouge's crimes.

Since his trial began in February, Duch, 67, has repeatedly used hearings to publicly ask for forgiveness for overseeing the murders of around 15,000 men, women and children at Tuol Sleng prison, built in a former high school.

He is charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and premeditated murder, and faces a maximum term of life in prison by the tribunal, which does not have the power to impose the death penalty.

Duch is expected to apologise again this week as his defence bids to lessen his sentence, however prosecution and civil party lawyers will each use a day of hearings to outline their arguments for a harsher decision.

A verdict is expected early next year.

Hundreds of Cambodians are set to attend the specially built courtroom on the outskirts of Phnom Penh for the hearing on Monday, which is due to start at 9:00 am (0200 GMT).

Duch will sit with the court's judges, lawyers and witnesses behind a massive bulletproof screen to prevent possible revenge attacks.

This week's proceedings will be broadcast live by all Cambodian television stations, court officials said.

Tuol Sleng prison was at the heart of the Khmer Rouge security apparatus and thousands of inmates were taken from there during Duch's tenure for execution at nearby Choeung Ek, an orchard now known as the "Killing Fields."

Led by "Brother Number One" Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge was responsible for one of the worst horrors of the 20th century, wiping out nearly a quarter of the population through starvation, overwork and execution.

Rising to power as a tragic spin-off from the US conflict in Vietnam, the movement emptied Cambodia's cities to take society back to a rural "Year Zero," purging city dwellers, intellectuals and even people who wore glasses.

The Khmer Rouge was ousted by Vietnamese-backed forces after a reign of terror lasting three years, eight months and 20 days, but continued to fight a civil war until 1998. Pol Pot died in the same year.

Duch has been detained since 1999, when he was found working as a Christian aid worker in the jungle, and was formally arrested by the tribunal in July 2007.

The court has faced controversy over allegations of interference by the government and claims that Cambodian staff paid kickbacks for their jobs.

The joint trial of four other more senior Khmer Rouge leaders is expected to start in 2011.

The court is also investigating whether to open more cases against five other former Khmer Rouge cadres after a dispute between the international and Cambodian co-prosecutors over whether to pursue more suspects.

Cambodian Khmer Rouge trial of Comrade Duch set to end


Monday, 23 November 2009

(CAAI News Media)


Thousands of people died at the prison Duch ran at Tuol Sleng

Lawyers at the trial of the Khmer Rouge's former prison chief in Cambodia are making closing arguments, after months of testimony.

Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Comrade Duch, ran a prison where thousands of people were tortured and murdered in the late 1970s.

The 67-year-old is accused of crimes against humanity and faces a life sentence in prison if convicted.

He is the first of five top Khmer Rouge figures to face the UN-backed tribunal.

As many as two million people are believed to have died under the Khmer Rouge, the Maoist regime that controlled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.

'Awful reality'

Duch went on trial in February, after years of wrangling over the establishment of the tribunal. A verdict in his case is expected early next year.

This week is the final chance for the prosecution and defence to have their say before the judges retire to consider their verdict.

Time has also been set aside for lawyers representing dozens of people who lived through the Khmer Rouge era, including the only three confirmed survivors of the notorious S-21 prison.

Duch ran S-21, also known as Tuol Sleng. As many as 17,000 inmates are thought to have passed through the gates of that facility.

All but a handful were tortured, forced to "confess" to crimes against the regime and then put to death at the so-called killing fields just outside Phnom Penh.

Duch has admitted that he was in charge of S-21 and apologised in court for his part in the horrors committed there.

He has said he was only following orders because he feared for his life. He is expected to address the court later this week.

"At this moment it's very important to give credit to Duch for his guilty plea," his lawyer Francois Roux said on Sunday. "Duch has recognised his responsibility."

But lawyers for the victims told the court on Monday this was not enough.

"Even today, the accused has sought to evade or minimise his role and the awful reality that was S-21...and suffering that befell so many civil parties that we all represent," lawyer Karim Khan said.

Co-prosecutor Bill Smith said he believed the trial had helped Cambodians come to terms with their country's history.

"I think the trial has been very, very successful," he told the BBC.

"The fact that the court has allowed the victims to participate through their civil party lawyers has been a real major success, connecting what's happening in that courtroom back to the people who experienced the tragedy of S-21."

The trial of four other top Khmer Rouge leaders is expected to begin in 2011.

Duch trial enters final arguments



Photo by: AFP
Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, stands before the court of the ECCC.

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These people were waiting for what was to be their day in court. not duch’s.
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(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 23 November 2009 15:03 Robbie Corey Boulet

Prosecution’s strength doubted as landmark KR trial nears end.

IN 1999, photographer Nic Dunlop was on a trip shooting mine-clearance operations in Battambang province when he happened upon the fugitive he had been chasing for more than a year.

At the time, the man was going by the name Hang Pin and working as the head of education in Samlot district, but Dunlop almost immediately recognised him as Tuol Sleng prison commandant Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch.

Writing about his discovery in 2005’s The Lost Executioner, Dunlop speculated on what a trial of Duch might look like, using as models other men who had been made to answer for mass crimes.

“When the table is turned,” he wrote, “the guilty either deny their involvement completely, readily identify with their victims as lesser victims, or create elaborate and complex arguments to muddy the clarity of moral responsibility. In some cases they even continue to attack the veracity of their victims’ claims.”

Ten years after finding Duch, Dunlop has had the chance to watch the 67-year-old former maths teacher reject the first of those strategies while embracing the other three during his trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity, which enters closing arguments today.

While accepting responsibility for the deaths of more than 12,000 prisoners, Duch has presented himself as a man who lived in fear of top Khmer Rouge leaders and did not participate in the interrogations, torture and executions for which Tuol Sleng became notorious. His defence team has also challenged the applications of nearly one-third of the direct or indirect victims registered as civil parties in the case.

The prosecution, meanwhile, has reportedly been hampered by problems such as high turnover, and civil parties have complained that their role in the case has been too vaguely defined, leaving some with the sense that Duch has been permitted to dominate the proceedings at the expense of his victims.

“There was an expectation raised. The civil parties believed that they would be able to look this man in the eye and finally ask him direct questions about their loved ones and experiences,” Dunlop said by phone from Bangkok. “Some had that chance. But these people were waiting for what was to be their day in court. Not Duch’s day, but theirs.”

Legal strategies
As Khmer Rouge scholar Alex Hinton has noted, the contours of the defence team’s strategy emerged early and haven’t wavered.

“The defence has set Duch up as an almost tragic hero, who, blinded by hubris and a lack of foresight, found himself swept up in great tragedy,” Hinton said via email. “He joined the revolution to help liberate the country only to find himself unwillingly caught in a machine of death that he could not stop. Like a tragic hero, he comes to understand what has happened too late and tries to repent in the end.”

The prosecution’s argument, Hinton said, has been equally clear. “For them, Duch is a highly effective, cold-blooded mass murderer who not only knew what was going on, but actively and eagerly contributed to the process, often in ways that far exceeded his orders. His hands drip with the blood of 12,380 victims.”

Some observers, however, have criticised the prosecution for failing to present a coherent and compelling case.

A report to be released today by the Asian International Justice Initiative highlights logistical problems, including a “noticeable lack of coordination between the different prosecutors assigned to different stages of the proceedings”. Acting international co-prosecutor William Smith told the authors of the report that the resignation of four attorneys, including his predecessor, Robert Petit, had been a “major obstacle to the smooth implementation” of the prosecution’s strategy.

To Dunlop, though, the prosecution’s problem seems more fundamental. “To my mind, in terms of pursuing an argument, they seem to be poorly briefed,” he said.

He cited as an example the case of Sou Sath, a former classmate of Duch’s who appeared as a character witness. Sou Sath told judges that Duch “didn’t say anything” about his political leanings when the two were students, an assertion that went unchallenged by the prosecution even though, Dunlop said, Duch was known to be progressive “even as a schoolboy”. Witness statements to this effect, Dunlop added, “would have described [Duch] as something of a fanatic, as someone who was beating a path towards a fairly fanatical communist supporter, which would obviously inform his later emergence as commandant of S-21”.

Dunlop said the prosecution had also failed to convincingly challenge one of Duch’s central claims: that he was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the torture facility.

“If I were a prosecution lawyer, I’d want to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that, in order for him to maintain that position of authority within this prison, it was essential that he was regularly seen in interrogations, that he participated, and that he killed,” Dunlop said. “In order to maintain this climate of total fear which both victim and perpetrator occupy, he has to have had a hand in that personally. And that hasn’t been established.”

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, also questioned the strength of the prosecution’s case, though he said the format of the hearings was at the root of the issue – in particular the fact that Duch has been able to respond directly to witnesses and civil parties.

He expressed concern about how this would affect the final verdict. “If [the defence] can manage to reduce Duch’s sentence by even a day, then they can declare victory over the millions of victims and continue to condemn the weakness of Cambodia’s rule of law,” he said.

For Bou Meng, one of only a handful of Tuol Sleng survivors and a civil party in the case, the closure expected to result from a verdict will outweigh anything that has emerged in the case thus far. “Right now, I am only 20 percent relieved from the sorrow of the loss of my family and the torture I suffered at S-21,” he said. “The other 80 percent is not yet relieved. I am awaiting the reading of the verdict for Duch.”

The most important open questions, he said, centre on the extent of Duch’s sincerity during the hearings, especially with respect to his professions of remorse. “We’ve wept together,” Bou Meng said. “I know my tears are coming from my sorrow. But I don’t know about Duch’s tears.”

This is a question Dunlop has been grappling with for the past 10 years. The Lost Executioner includes several passages pondering whether Duch’s conversion to Christianity had been “a lie or simply an attempt to avoid arrest”, and whether his statements of remorse had been “just an elaborate smokescreen”.

Dunlop described Duch’s public statements at the trial thus far as scripted and contrived. “When he stands up in court and he reads his apology from a piece of paper, and he’s obviously enjoying his day in court, he has absolutely no idea of how that comes across because the man lacks total empathy,” he said.

But even if Duch strikes a sympathetic chord this week, Dunlop said the question of his sincerity may prove secondary to many survivors of the regime. “From the people I’ve talked to, what they’ve been looking for is an accounting. They want something approaching the truth for what occurred,” he said. “I don’t think any measure of contrition from Duch is enough.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY NETH PHEAKTRA

Officials destroy safrole oil stills



Photo by: Jeremy Holden
RCAF soldier Sean Prel inserts a charge into an anti-tank mine in order to destroy equipment used in the production of safrole, a precursor for the drug Ecstasy. A recent patrol destroyed 18 illegal factories in the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary in Pursat province.

(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 23 November 2009 15:03 Sebastian Strangio and Cheang Sokha

Raids, patrols squeezing the life out of Cambodia’s trade in so-called ‘Ecstasy oil’.

ANTI-DRUG officials say they are one step closer to eradicating illicit drug precursor production in the Cardamom Mountains following a recent patrol that led to the destruction of 18 illegal factories in the region.

The gruelling 10-day foot patrol, carried out by conservation groups in close cooperation with forest rangers from the armed services and Ministry of Environment, targeted jungle stills producing safrole oil, a precursor to the production of MDMA – more commonly known as Ecstasy.

“This latest enforcement action … has delivered a heavy blow to those criminal elements that seek to exploit and destroy Cambodia’s forests for personal gain,” said Tim Wood, an adviser for Flora and Fauna International (FFI) who took part in the patrol, in a statement Sunday.

Safrole-rich oil, which has legitimate uses in the chemical industry as a fragrance agent and in the manufacturing of insecticides, is distilled from the roots of trees belonging to the sassafras family, known in Khmer as m’reah prov phnom.

To produce the oil, operators feed the trees into mechanical shredders and boil down the wood chips to produce a thick, amber-coloured oil that is highly prized on regional drug markets but can have deleterious effects when leaked into the environment.

Thorn Kimhong, director of the Cardamom natural protected areas for the Ministry of Environment, said the 10-day patrol that ended Wednesday followed air surveys by anti-drug authorities that confirmed the presence of 25 safrole stills in the western Cardamoms.

“It is not easy to find them since they produce deep in the jungle, so we use helicopters to monitor from the air and GPS sending foot patrols into the jungle,” he said.


Photo by: Jeremy Holden
RCAF soldiers and forest rangers inspect the twisted remains of a steel cauldron used to distill safrole oil in the Cardamom Mountains, just minutes after destroying it with an anti-tank mine (inset).

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THEY’re NOT INTERESTED IN SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY... THEY JUST WANT TO GO IN AND MAKE MONEY.
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Experts say safrole production began in Cambodia around 2001, linking its growth to a drop-off in production in neighbouring Vietnam after Hanoi issued a ban on the local production of the substance in 1999.

Bunra Seng, country director of Conservation International, said Vietnamese drug syndicates learned of the presence of m’reah prov phnom trees during the Vietnamese military occupation in the 1980s, and when Vietnamese authorities cracked down on safrole production, drug cartels simply shifted their operations to remote areas of the Cardamoms.

“In each factory there has been one or two Vietnamese experts who build the tanks and run the system,” he said.

Thorn Kimhong confirmed the presence of Vietnamese “technicians” at the factory sites, saying the majority of Cambodia’s safrole is exported to Thailand and Vietnam, presumably for drug production in those countries.

It is unclear, how much Cambodian safrole is worth on local and international markets.

Anand Chaudhuri, project coordinator for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Cambodia, said oil distilled from the m’reah prov phnom was unusually pure, containing between 90 to 95 percent safrole, and put the local wholesale price at between US$5 and $6 per litre.

Bunra Seng cited higher local estimates that drums of the oil were worth $20 per litre in Pursat, a price that rises to $50 in Phnom Penh and up to $100 at the Vietnamese border.

Poisoning the land
As well as supplying a vital ingredient for regional drug producers, safrole production has far-reaching local impacts, environmentalists say.

Bunra Seng said that in addition to the depletion of the endangered m’reah prov tree, which exists only in isolated parts of the Cardamoms, many other trees were felled to feed the massive cauldrons that produce the oil. There are also concerns, he said, that workers living in the jungle resort to poaching in order to feed themselves.

“There is no food from the outside – they just bring salt and rice into the forest. Then they start trapping and shooting animals,” he said.

Wood described the operations as “wholesale destruction”, since an estimated four m’reah prov trees are needed to produce each barrel of safrole oil. He added that the criminals were unaware that the giant stills produce toxic runoff that pollutes local rivers and waterways.

“They’re not interested in sustainable forestry or sustainable environmental practices. They just want to go in and make money,” he said.

The remote location of Cambodia’s safrole operations, which are mostly concentrated in the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary in Koh Kong and Pursat provinces, make them difficult to track, but officials are confident that recent efforts have begun to strangle the elusive trade.

In June 2008, a raid in the western Cardamoms, led jointly by FFI and Cambodian authorities, netted 5.7 tonnes of safrole, which the Australian Federal Police estimated was enough to produce an estimated 245 million Ecstasy tablets with a street value of US$7 billion.

Further raids this year – including the seizure by Conservation International of 2,200 litres of the substance from a truck in September – have led to the confiscation of 15 more tonnes of the substance.

On the right track
Lieutenant General Mok Dara, secretary general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, hailed the government’s achievements in cracking down on safrole production, saying authorities have destroyed around 30 tonnes of confiscated safrole since raids began in 2001, and that 20 tonnes were scheduled for destruction in the near future.

“Since we started our operation, safrole production has calmed down,” he said.

Wood said that only four of the 18 factories destroyed by the recent patrol had been in use during the previous week, a “great sign” that illicit producers were beating a hasty retreat in the face of official crackdowns.

He said the explosives used to destroy the factories had done “an incredible amount of damage”, rendering their large steel cauldrons and distiling equipment unusable.

“If they want to recommence operations, they will have to bring in new pots, which cost a lot of time and money,” he said.

A report on drug precursors released by the International Narcotics Control Board in 2008 found that approximately 380 kilograms of pure safrole is required to produce 100 kilograms of MDMA.

Thai leaked Thaksin info, attorney says



(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 23 November 2009 15:02 Cheang Sokha

SIWARAK Chotipong, the 31-year-old Thai national accused of espionage in the theft of fugitive Thai former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s flight schedule, has admitted to leaking information about Thaksin’s flight to the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, Siwarak’s defence attorney said Sunday, though the attorney denied that this act constituted theft or espionage.

“I acknowledge that my client has confessed to the court that he leaked the information about Thaksin’s flight to the Thai embassy, but I want to confirm that he reported to the embassy 10 minutes after it landed, and he did not know that Thaksin was in the plane at that time,” said Kao Soupha, Siwarak’s attorney.

Kao Soupha added that allegations that Siwarak “stole” the flight schedule make little sense, given that it was his professional responsibility as an employee of Thai-owned Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS) to know the flight information.

“He did not steal the flight records because it is his position to know all the flights. He never thought it was a serious matter,” Kao Soupha said.

Siwarak was arrested on November 12, during Thaksin’s controversial visit to Cambodia in his capacity as government economics adviser. He is being held in pretrial detention at Prey Sar prison, though a date for his trial has yet to be announced.

On Friday, the government held a press conference at the Council of Ministers to explain its actions in taking control of CATS, which employs nine Thai nationals in Cambodia.

“We did not expel the Thai workers – we just banned them from coming near the operating equipment that is related to safety and security,” said Tekreth Samrach, a secretary of state at the Council of Ministers. CATS, he added, has been placed under the caretakership of an official from the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation.

Kao Soupha said the Municipal Court’s investigation of Siwarak had concluded after just one week. He added that he planned to file a bail request for his client on Monday.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KAY KIMSONG