Virachai accuses P. Penh of lying
Thailand accused Cambodia at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) yesterday of using a falsified map to back its request for an interpretation of the court's 1962 ruling on the Preah Vihear temple.
- Published: 18/04/2013 at 12:00 AM
- Newspaper section: news
More than 100 members of the South Isan Land Protection Network try to enter the disputed 4.6-square-kilometre area around the Preah Vihear temple in Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket to put up a Thai national flag there yesterday. They were blocked by a combined force of soldiers and police. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL
The accusation was made by Virachai Plasai, head of the Thai legal team, in a statement delivered to the ICJ during a hearing on the temple dispute at The Hague, the Netherlands, yesterday.
Mr Virachai told the court Cambodia showed the fake map during its presentation of its statement on the case earlier this week with the intention of creating a misunderstanding. The map was different to the one attached in its petition to the court.
The map clearly showed the Preah Vihear temple was situated on the Cambodian side but the border lines shown in the two maps were different, Mr Virachai said.
"Cambodia has asked the court to consider the border line based on the Annex I map, known as the 1:200,000-scale map. But which map was it talking about?" Mr Virachai said.
Romanian lawyer Alina Miron, one of four foreign lawyers defending the case for Thailand, said Cambodia had only asked the ICJ to rule on the ownership of the temple in the court case which led to the court ruling in 1962. Phnom Penh had not mentioned the 4.6 square kilometres of land next to it. The land claimed by Cambodia at the time only covered .35 sq km.
She said Cambodia had not attached a map to claim the 4.6 sq km of land in 1962 but only did it in its new petition to the ICJ in 2011 to ask the court to interpret its judgement.
Cambodia was trying to tell the ICJ that in 1962 the court ruled the temple was under the sovereignty of Cambodia by using the 1:200,000-scale map which encroached on Thai territory.
Ms Miron said the 1962 court ruling gave ownership of the temple to Cambodia based on 60 documents. She questioned the validity of Cambodia's claim to the territory by citing the Annex I map alone.
"Cambodia on Monday gave a lot of importance to the Annex I map. It also mentioned the 1904 [Franco-Siamese] treaty which gave sovereignty to Cambodia but this treaty did not mention the temple," she said.
"Thailand wants to oppose [Cambodia's position] because Cambodia said this Annex I map showed that the temple is situated in Cambodia and this map also showed the area in which the temple is situated."
She said a foreign lawyer for Cambodia was too hasty in concluding that the 1962 court only used the Annex I map to consider the ownership of the temple.
If the court compared the old map with the current map Cambodia has submitted, it would see there were inconsistencies between them.
Mr Virachai said it is clear that Thailand had fully complied with all of the court's 1962 judgement and Cambodia has accepted that, notably when it held a ceremony attended by its then Prince Norodom Sihanouk to celebrate Cambodia's victory in the court case.
Thailand had withdrawn troops from the temple and returned ancient artefacts to Cambodia which had requested them at that time.
"After half a century, Cambodia came back to the court to challenge the meaning and scope of the 1962 ruling which showed a complete switch of position," Mr Virachai said. "It requests the court to do what it refused to consider in 1962 regarding the border line."
He said Cambodia prepared the new petition because it wanted the ownership of land around the temple to use it as a conservation area which was required to support its application to register the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.
He said the conservation area sought by Cambodia overlapped with the 4.6 sq km of land claimed by Thailand. This dispute over the border line should have been tackled by the two countries under their memorandum of understanding in 2000 but Cambodia refused to do so.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul expressed satisfaction with the Thai legal team's statement yesterday.
Many Thai followers of the court case also praised Thailand's foreign lawyers through online social media for their performances in court.
Words of admiration and confidence about the Thai team's performance in court were widely viewed and shared on Facebook and Twitter webpages after the broadcasting of the ICJ hearing.
Among admirers were Senator Kamnoon Sitthisammarn who saw Ms Miron's explanation about the maps of the Thai-Cambodian border as a clear response to the Cambodian legal team.
Her presentation "makes my hair stand on end", Mr Kamnoon posted.
Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn yesterday also expressed confidence in the legal battle after listening to Thailand's clarification of maps along the border.
After the conclusion by the Thai side yesterday, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf from Somalia asked Thailand and Cambodia to submit their own geographic coordinates of the area in the temple's vicinity on their own maps.
The judge asked the two countries to submit their own statements on the geographic coordinates of the temple to the court before April 26.
The judge also asked the two countries to present only new information when the second round of hearings begins today.
About the author
- Writer: Thanida Tansubhapol & Nauvarat Suksamran