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Family Members Visit Thai Border Arrestees

Thai activists Veera Somkwamkid, second left, a core leader of Yellow Shirts and Panich Vikitsreth, a member of Parliment of the ruling Democrat party, second right, are escorted by Cambodian court security personnel at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, last Th

Family members of a high-profile group of Thais arrested on the border last week paid a visit to the defendants in Prey Sar prison on Monday, as protesters in Thailand continued to press for their release.

No details of the meetings were released to the media on Monday, as family members were escorted to the prison by Thai Embassy officials.

The group, which includes Thai member of parliament Panich Vikitsreth, were allegedly caught within Cambodia's borders in O'Chov district, Banteay Meanchey province, after reportedly traveling there to examine Thai villagers' claims of Cambodian border encroachment.

They were charged with illegally crossing the border and entering a military area.

The group of seven—five men and two women—have hired two Cambodian lawyers and are awaiting questioning by the courts. Government officials on both sides have so far ruled out a political release.

Pich Vicheka, who is representing four defendants, said he did not have details of the meeting, because the families spoke to each other in Thai. He said the defendants are now awaiting a date for questioning by the investigating office of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Spokesmen for both sides said Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is expected to discuss the case with Prime Minister Hun Sen by phone in coming days.

The arrests have renewed demonstrations in Bangkok by the so-called “yellow shirt” People's Alliance for Democracy, a group responsible for deep political divisions in Thailand in recent years.

In Bangkok, a supporter of the Thailand Patriot Network, whose members were among those arrested, blamed Thailand's defense minister for the incident. Chaiwat Sinsuwong, a leader of the network, urged protesters to travel to the border to demonstrate in Thailand's Sa Kaeo province on Tuesday, the Bangkok Post reported.

The border checkpoint of Obei Chon, in O'Chov, remained closed on Monday, where a Cambodian border official said 63 villagers had been prevented from crossing.