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Four More Thais Released Ahead of Trial

  • Heng Reaksmey
  • VOA Khmer

Thai activists, from right, Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, Veera Somkwamkid, Kochpontorn Chusanaseree, Samdin Lersbusya, eat breakfast at Phnom Penh Appeal Court, on Tuesday.

Thai activists, from right, Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, Veera Somkwamkid, Kochpontorn Chusanaseree, Samdin Lersbusya, eat breakfast at Phnom Penh Appeal Court, on Tuesday.

The Cambodian Appeals Court on Tuesday let free on bail four more Thais arrested for alleged illegal border crossing, but they kept one in jail who is also facing charges of espionage.

The decision overruled a ruling by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week to hold five of seven Thais arrested in December in Banteay Meanchey province.

Veera Somkwamkid, a leader of the "yellow shirt" People's Alliance for Democracy, was not granted bail. He is facing charges of illegal entry, trespassing on military land and for gathering evidence against the state of Cambodia.

His assistant, Ratrea Paiputanapaiboon, who is also facing espionage charges, was released along with three others Tuesday, for a bail posting of around $250 each.

That brings a total of six Thais who will have to remain under the custody of the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh ahead of trials, which are expected to begin soon. The high-profile case, which includes a Thai member of parliament, has sparked protests in Thailand. The Thai delegation has said it was investigating claims of Cambodian border encroachment and was not aware it had crossed into Cambodia.

Appeals Court judge Choun Sunleng did not say why he had decided to keep Veera in jail.

Outside the courtroom Tuesday morning, Veera told reporters, in Thai language, he did not agree with the decision. "I will continue my case until the end," he said.

Defense lawyers said they welcomed the release, but declined further comment.

Samdin Lersbusya, 57, told reporters after his release he was grateful to the court. "And also thanks to the Thai media that has taken care of us," he said in Thai. "During my detention in jail, no one hurt me. And we were all detained together in one room."

Sowat Kaewsook, minister of counsel for the Thai Embassy, said the defendants would be brought to court on the trial date.

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