Cambodia jails two Thais for spying

A Phnom Penh court has sentenced Veera Somkhwamkid to eight years in jail and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon to six years for espionage.

Activist Veera Somkhwamkid waves as he escorted into Phnom Penh prison for eight years after he and fellow Thai Patriots Network member Ratree Pipatanapaiboon were convicted of espionage.

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Veera gets 8 years in prison for espionage

Veera: Does not accept ruling

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has sentenced Thai Patriots Network coordinator Veera Somkhwamkid to eight years in jail and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon to six years for espionage.

The two were taken straight to Phnom Penh's Prey Sar prison after the court handed down its verdict about 7pm yesterday.

The court also fined Mr Veera 1.8 million riel (about 14,000 baht) and Ms Ratree 1.2 million riel (about 10,000 baht), and seized two diaries, a cellphone, a tape recorder and a video recorder from Mr Veera.

The pair have the right to appeal within 30 days.

Mr Veera emerged from the court room dressed in a blue prison uniform to tell reporters he did not accept the ruling, which he described as unjust. He said he would launch an appeal.

Mr Veera and his secretary, Ms Ratree, were two of seven Thais arrested on Dec 29 last year in Banteay Meanchey province opposite Thailand's Sa Kaeo for trespassing on Cambodian territory and entering a military area without permission.

The two were additionally charged with spying after Phnom Penh accused them of attempting to gather information in an off-limits area that could affect national security.

The other five Thais received suspended eight-month jail terms on Jan 21 and have returned to Thailand. Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdee did not confirm if Mr Veera and Ms Ratree would appeal.

Mr Thani said they could not put in a request for a royal pardon until all judicial avenues had been explored.

Ratree: Taken to Prey Sar prison

"The Thai government will help them as much as we can," he said.

Mr Thani said Thailand and Cambodia would not raise the court's verdict for discussion at the coming Joint Border Committee meeting due to be held in Siem Reap in Cambodia from tomorrow until Friday.

Meanwhile, co-leader of the yellow shirt People's Alliance for Democracy Chamlong Srimuang, said shortly after hearing of the verdict that the PAD did not accept the ruling and would try to help Mr Veera and Ms Ratree fight their cases.

The PAD has been demonstrating near Government House since last Tuesday to protest against the government's handling of Thai-Cambodian issues.

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
escort – to go with someone คุ้ม
Thai Patriots Network – The group formed to pressure the Thai government into not approving any agreements which would result in the loss of territory to Cambodia เครือข่ายกลุ่มคนไทยหัวใจรักชาติ
convicted – proven in a court of law to have committed a crime การกระทำผิดกฎหมาย
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
ruling – a decision by a court of law คำตัดสิน คำชี้ขาด
municipal – of a town, city or district with its own local government เทศบาล
sentence – (of a court of law) to give a punishment ลงโทษ
coordinator – someone whose job is to organise the various parts of an activity and make sure that all the people involved work well together ประสานงานกัน ทำงานร่วมกัน
verdict – a decision by a court of law คำพิพากษา
fine – to be required to pay an amount of money because you have broken the law ปรับเป็นเงิน
seize – to take something using official power ยึด
diary – a book with a separate space or page for each day, in which you write down your future arrangements, meetings, etc., or one used to record your thoughts and feelings or what has happened on that day สมุดบันทึก, ไดอารี่, บันทึกประจำวัน
pair – two people who are doing something together คู่
appeal – a request to a court to change a decision by a lower court อุทธรณ์
emerged – came out ปรากฏให้เห็น
unjust – not fair or reasonable ไม่ยุติธรรม
launch – to start something เริ่มต้น เริ่มทำ
arrest – (of the police or, in this case, soldiers) to take someone under control because they are believed to have committed a crime จับกุม
opposite – across from or facing someone or something ที่อยู่ตรงกันข้าม
permission – allowing someone to do something การอนุญาต,การอนุมัติ,การยินยอม
trespass – to go onto someone's land or enter their building without permission บุกรุก,รุกล้ำ
territory – an area of land controlled by a particular country, leader or army อาณาบริเวณ  อาณาเขตประเทศ
charge – to accuse someone officially of committing a crime ตั้งข้อกล่าวหา
spying – secretly collecting and reporting information about the activities of another country or organisation การจารกรรม
off-limits – (of a place or area of land) not allowed to enter ที่ห้ามเข้า,ที่ไม่อนุญาตให้ผ่านเข้าไป
security – protection; safety from attack, harm, or damage ความมั่นคง, ระบบรักษาความปลอดภั, ความปลอดภัย
suspended jail term – 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 ไม่รอลงอาญา
pardon – an official decision to forgive someone for  committing a crime and to free them from punishment  การอภัยโทษ การนิรโทษกรรม
judicial – relating to the courts of law ในชั้นศาล
avenue – a method or way of doing something; a possibility วิธีการ, ลู่ทาง
explore – to examine something completely or carefully in order to find out more about it สำรวจ,ตรวจ
joint – done together; belonging to or shared between two or more people ที่ร่วมกัน, ความร่วมมือกัน
border – the official line separating two areas, regions or countries  เขตแดน อาณาเขต
due to – scheduled to มีกำหนด
co-leader – one of two leaders of a group
People’s Alliance for Democracy – the union of several groups protesting against the past government and which staged large protests against the Thaksin government as well พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย  
protest – to make a strong complaint or disagreement ประท้วง
demonstrate – to protest about something, usually with a large group of people ชุมนุมประท้วง
issue – a problem that needs to be considered ประเด็น

About the author

Writer: Terry Fredrickson
Position: Education Marketing and Support Manager