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An early release for Veera and Ratree? (updated)

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Hopes are high that improved relations with Cambodia will lead to an early release for the two Thai activisits jailed there. Now it seems a prisoner exchange is possible. 

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Friday morning update

Freedom chance for activists

Cambodia offers to exchange prisoners

Cambodia has offered to exchange high-profile jailed Thai activists Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipattanapaibun with Cambodian prisoners in Thailand.

The offer was raised during talks between Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong in Phnom Penh yesterday.

During the joint press conference after a one-hour meeting, Hor Namhong said Mr Surapong raised the issue of the two Thai activists.

He said he told his Thai counterpart that Cambodian law requires prisoners to serve at least two-thirds of their jail term before a royal pardon could be requested.

"Cambodia will consider the Thai proposal [to give a royal pardon to both Thais] if Thailand will accept to exchange them with a group of Cambodian prisoners jailed in Thailand," Hor Namhong said.

activist – someone who takes part in activities that are intended to achieve political or social change, especially someone who is a member of an organisation นักกิจกรรม
offer – to say that you are willing to do something for somebody or give something to somebody  อาสา, แสดงความเต็มใจ
exchange – an act of giving something to somebody or doing something for somebody and receiving something in return การแลกเปลี่ยน
high-profile – receiving a lot of attention from the public ที่มีชื่อ ที่ได้รับความสนใจจากสาธารณชน
joint – done together; belonging to or shared between two or more people ที่ร่วมกัน, ความร่วมมือกัน
press conference – an official meeting where someone makes a formal statement about a particular issue or event to journalists and answers their questions about it การแถลงข่าว
raise the issue – to bring up a subject for discussion ยกขึ้นมาเป็นประเด็น
counterpart – someone who has the same job or purpose as another person, but in a different country, time, situation or organisation ฝ่ายตรงข้าม หรือคนที่อยู่ในตำแหน่งเดียวกันของอีกประเทศ หรือ กลุ่มหนึ่ง
jail term – the length of time a person is required to spend in jail
pardon– an official decision to forgive someone for  committing a crime and to free them from full or further punishment or to have their punishment reduced การอภัยโทษ
proposal – a plan or suggestion for a group to consider ข้อเสนอ


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An early release for Veera and Ratree?

Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul travels to Cambodia today and hopes are high that he will be able to arrange an early release of two jailed Thai political activists, Veera Somkhwamkid and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaibul.

Relations between the two countries are much warmer now than they were when the two activists and five other Thais were arrested in Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province opposite to Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet district on Dec 29 last year. Veera and Ratree were sentenced to eight and six years respectively on charges of illegal entry and espionage. The other five, including former Democrat Party MP Panich Vikitsreth, were eventually released after the court suspended their sentences.

Speculation that Veera and Ratree might be released from prison sooner than scheduled increased yesterday after the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh asked the pair whether they wanted to appeal against the verdict of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Both refused to do so.

According to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, the Appeal Court Judge Samrith Sophal agreed with their decision and said that the pair could seek a royal pardon from Cambodia's king after they have served two thirds of the jail term.

The only way that can happen is for the sentences of the pair to be reduced and that is likely what Mr Surapong will try to negotiate today.

Speaking to reporters during a short break at the court, Mr Veera said he had been well taken care of by the guards and inmates, adding that he missed his homeland very much.

His younger brother Preecha, said he believed Mr Surapong, a minister from the Pheu Thai Party, will be able to help secure the release of Veera and Ratree.

"Now relations of the two countries have improved. We hope to hear good news from the Pheu Thai-led government," he said.

Adapted from a story in today's Bangkok Post by Anucha Charoenpo and Thanida Tansubhapol.

release – to allow someone to go free ปล่อยตัว
arrange – to plan or organise something in advance จัดเตรียม,  เตรียมการ
activist – someone who takes part in activities that are intended to achieve political or social change, especially someone who is a member of an organisation นักกิจกรรม
relations – the way in which two people, groups or countries behave towards each other or deal with each other ความสัมพันธ์
arrested – caught by the police and taken to a police station because you are believed to have committed a crime ถูกจับกุม
opposite – across from or facing someone or something ที่อยู่ตรงกันข้าม
sentence – (of a court of law) to give a punishment ลงโทษ
respectively – in the order in which they were mentioned ตามลำดับ
charge – an official statement accusing someone of committing a crime ข้อหา
illegal – against the law ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
espionage – the activity of secretly getting important political or military information about another country or of finding out another company's secrets by using spies  จารกรรม
eventually – at the end of a period of time or at the end of a process ในที่สุด
suspend a sentence – a situation when the court decides that the person who has been proven guilty of a crime does not have to undergo the punishment given, usually under certain conditions รอลงอาญา
speculation – ideas or discussion about why something has happened or what might happen คาดการณ์ ประเมิณสถานการณ์
scheduled – planned to happen at a particular time or day ตามตารางเวลา
Court of Appeal – a court that decides requests that a decision made by a lower court be changed ศาลอุทธรณ์
verdict – a decision by a court of law คำพิพากษา
municipal – of a town, city or district with its own local government เทศบาล
refuse – to say you will not do something ปฏิเสธ
state – government รัฐบาล
pardon– an official decision to forgive someone for  committing a crime and to free them from full or further punishment or to have their punishment reduced การอภัยโทษ
reduce – to make something smaller or less in amount, size, importance etc ลดลง
negotiate – to try to reach an agreement by discussing something in a formal way เจรจาต่อรอง
guard – a person, such as a soldier, a police officer or a prison officer prevents prisoners from escaping ผู้คุ้มกัน
inmate – someone who is kept in a prison, mental hospital or other institution นักโทษ
secure – to get or achieve something ได้มา
improve – to get better  ดีขึ้น

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