Cambodia to charge Thai MP in border incident: PM

Cambodia to charge Thai MP in border incident: PMAFP/File – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen gives a speech in November 2010. Cambodia said Wednesday it would charge …
PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Cambodia said Wednesday it would charge a Thai ruling party politician and six others whom it accused of illegally entering its territory after they were arrested in a disputed border area.
The incident is likely to renew diplomatic friction between theneighbouring countries, which have a long-standing border dispute.
Democrat Party lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth was detained along with a group of journalists and members of the royalist "Yellow Shirt" movement while inspecting contested territory from Thailand's eastern Sa Kaeo province.
"They were measuring Thai territory inside Cambodian territory. So Cambodia has the right to arrest them," Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech at a government meeting on rural development.
He said the seven would be taken from the border in northwestern Banteay Meanchey province to the capital Phnom Penh where they would be charged and then locked up awaiting trial.
"They will be sent to the court on Thursday and when the court charges them, they will be jailed in Prey Sar prison," he said.
Hun Sen said he hoped that the incident would not affect relations between the two countries.
"I hope Prime Minister Abhisit (Vejjajiva) will understand the Cambodian judicial system," he said, adding that the arrests were "not revenge" against Thailand.
A Thai government spokesman in Bangkok said Abhisit was aware of the incident and trying to coordinate with Cambodia to resolve the situation.

"Now it's in the process of negotiation between local officers from both countries to release our people," saidPanitan Wattanayagorn.
The Thai-Cambodia border has never been fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.
Relations between the two countries have been strained following a series of deadly border clashes in July 2008 over land surrounding the 11th century Preah Vihear temple after it was granted UN World Heritage status.
Last month the Yellow Shirts held a rally outside parliament in Bangkok, calling on the Thai government to take a tougher stance against Cambodia over the border issue.
In October Cambodia accused Thai authorities of playing "dirty games" and concocting evidence that anti-government "Red Shirts" -- the arch rivals of the "Yellow Shirts" -- had received weapons training on its territory.
Thailand was outraged when Cambodia hired ousted former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, a hero to many of the Reds, as an economic adviser in November 2009.
The move led to both countries withdrawing their ambassadors and relations were not fully restored until Thaksin resigned in August.
Relations had appeared to be improving recently after Hun Sen and Abhisit held a series of meetings on the sidelines of international and regional summits.

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