Phnom Penh denies doctoring map

Thai legal team accused of hoodwinking court

Cambodia denied Thursday that it had doctored a map to mislead the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its request for the court to interpret its 1962 ruling on the Preah Vihear temple.

Ambassador Virachai Plasai makes the opening statement for Thailand at the International Court of Justice, where the arguments over Preah Vihear temple are heating up.

Taking the floor to defend Cambodia's position at the court hearings on the case at The Hague, the Netherlands, last night, Cambodia's foreign lawyer Rodman Bundy countered that it was Thailand that tried to mislead the court by presenting its version of a map which was not relevant in the 1962 judgement.

"We did not falsify the map as claimed by Thailand. But in fact, Thailand has attempted to limit our vicinity [from the temple] by setting up a fence without our approval," he said. He insisted the map, Annex 85D, used by the Thai legal team in its oral presentation on Wednesday to limit the perimeter of the temple, was irrelevant.

Although the court had distributed Annex map 85D along with the 1962 judgement, it had not mentioned what it had been used for. So there was no need for the court to consider the evidence of Annex 85D raised by Thailand on Wednesday, the lawyer said.

Romanian lawyer Alina Miron, who is a member of the Thai legal team, told the court on Wednesday that Annex map 85D was one part of the big map that the court reproduced to illustrate the temple's vicinity and the areas in which Thailand would withdraw its military.

Mr Bundy reaffirmed Cambodia's call for the ICJ to interpret its 1962 judgement because both Thailand and Cambodia were in conflict over interpreting its scope and meaning.

"There is definitely a conflict on the issue about the area around the Preah Vihear temple," he said, while explaining why a court interpretation of the ruling was needed.

He said Cambodia has never accepted the Thai cabinet's resolution to unilaterally define the temple boundary as it had been drawn without referring to any watershed line or map.

The late king Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia, who then had the title of prince, had never made any gesture to recognise the Thai-made boundary of the temple. On the contrary, then prince Sihanouk had expressed objections to the boundary on different occasions in 1967, 1968 and 1969, he said.

Franklin Berman, another lawyer for Cambodia, said that Thailand had not withdrawn troops from Cambodian territory as required by the ICJ's 1962 verdict.

"It was funny that the Thai troops had moved out of the temple, but they remained stationed on Cambodian soil. We need the court to clarify so that the Thai soldiers will stay on their own territory," he said.

In his closing statement, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong insisted that the interpretation of the court's 1962 verdict was necessary as there were disagreements between the two countries over it.

These differences had hampered the peaceful relations of the two nations.

He reiterated that Thailand's claim to sovereign rights over the 4.6 sq km disputed area was unfounded.

Hor Namhong said he believed a court verdict would bring Thailand and Cambodia's border row to an end.

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said Cambodia worked hard to present to the court that the barbed-wire fence surrounding the temple had been erected by Thailand without the approval of Cambodia and that Cambodia had protested against it.

He said the Thai legal team will show to the court on Friday that the Annex I map did not show the borderline between the two countries as claimed by Cambodia.

Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana said that Cambodia has attempted to point out that there is a different point of view on the area of the temple's vicinity.

"Cambodia is trying to say that some part of the map [Annex 85D] is not important in the case. But, in fact, the court used it to illustrate the temple's vicinity. Moreover, the Cambodian lawyer has accepted the 4.6 sq km area has nothing to do with the temple's vicinity," he said.

Thursday was the second and last round of Cambodia's presentation of its statement to the ICJ.

Thailand will have its final turn to counter Cambodia with the presentation of its account to the court Friday.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra expressed confidence in the Thai legal team's ability to disprove Cambodia's arguments during the World Court hearings over the Preah Vihear temple.

The prime minister said Thailand's lawyers should be able to rebut all the arguments presented by Cambodia in its next round of presentation at the ICJ.

Ms Yingluck said the legal team's performance had met its target during the first round of the presentation of its statement on the case on Wednesday.

She was confident the ICJ would deliver a verdict which would help keep the peace between Thailand and Cambodia.

Ms Yingluck said the legal battle must be separated from efforts to maintain relations between the two countries.

The two countries have a role to play at the ICJ, although good relations must continue, she said.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva also applauded the team of Thai lawyers headed by Thai ambassador to The Hague, Virachai Plasai, for their performance in court.

Related search: thailand, cambodia, International Court of Justice, ICJ, fabrication, lies, maps

About the author

columnist
Writer: Post Reporters
Position: Reporters