Thailand: Cambodia has agenda

Cambodia was hoping that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would change its 1962 verdict on the Preah Vihear case when it petitioned the court to reinterpret the ruling, a member of Thailand's legal team said in an oral statement to the ICJ on Wednesday.

  • Published: 17/04/2013 at 08:45 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

Ambassador Virachai Plasai and Thai government counsel Professor Alain Pellet were among those who addressed the International Court of Justice on behalf of Thailand Wednesday.

Donald McRae said Phnom Penh had asked the ICJ to reinterpret the 1962 verdict, which awarded the possession of the ancient Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia, because it wanted the court to rule that the boundary line is defined by a French-made 1:200,000-scale map.

However, the court declined to rule on the map in 1962, and said specifically it had no jurisdiction to decide on demarcation.

Phnom Penh's petition lacked clarity and specificity, McRae said.

Virachai Plasai, Thai ambassador to the Hague and leader of the legal team, said his Cambodian counterparts had fabricated information and attempted to mislead the court by using a falsified map to back its request for an interpretation of the court's 1962 ruling on the temple.

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.

A "patriot" group held a rally in Si Sa Ket on Wednesday aiming to raise the Thai national flag on the 4.6-square-kilometre patch of land around Preah Vihear.(Photo by Pattarachai Preechapanich)

"Thailand has strictly followed the 1962 verdict," he said. "But Cambodia's intention is clear, (and it is) trying to get the court to interpret the 1:200,000-scale map and trying to get Preah Vihear listed as a World Heritage Site," Mr Virachai said.

Alina Miron, an attorney representing Thailand, said the 1:200,000-scale map drawn by France that was proposed to the judges by the Cambodian side, had many versions and they have to be considered thoroughly.

She said many map experts agreed that the map could not be used as a reference because it has geographical errors.

Many inaccuracies can be found when the French-made map is placed on top of the current map, Miron said.

Alain Pellet, another lawyer representing Thailand, said the barbed wire laid around Preah Vihear by Thailand 51 years ago was to set the boundary line of the ancient temple, not to demarcate the Thai-Cambodian border.

Pellet said the late King Norodom Sihanouk appeared happy and celebrated at Preah Vihear after learning that Thailand had laid barbed wire around the temple a week after the verdict was delivered.

Deputy permanent secretary for foreign affairs Nuttavudh Photisaro phoned in from the Netherlands to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, saying he believed that Thailand's oral statement to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would be able to convince the judges to rule in Thailand's favour.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she was pleased with Wednesday's court interpreters as they had prepared information in advance, making it easier for people to understand both sides' statements.

Meanwhile, a self-styled "patriot" group held a rally in Kantaralak district in Si Sa Ket province on Wednesday aiming to raise the Thai national flag on the 4.6-square-kilometre patch of land around the temple.

About 200 policemen were deployed to stop the effort and control the situation. 

Samnieng Suphonpop, 45, one of the group's leaders, drove a pickup truck up to police lines to confront officers, but she was pushed back without further problems.

The group's core leaders - Pol Cap Preecha Eiamsuphan, Veerapan Malaiphan and Kittichai Ponphai - negotiated with police to get past their lines and into the temple region, but police refused, citing safety reasons. The group agreed to disperse Wednesday afternoon, but as a final act gave a large Thai flag to the police and the district chief with a request they plant it in the disputed area.

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 Wednesday. They were blocked by a combined force of soldiers and police. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

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