Cambodian court convicts Thai man of spying in Thaksin case

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dec 8, 2009

Phnom Penh - A Thai national was convicted of espionage by a Cambodian court Tuesday and sentenced to seven years in jail in a case linked to the controversial November visit to Cambodia by Thailand's former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Siwarak Chothipong, 31, was arrested in mid-November after the authorities accused him of passing on Thaksin's flight details to a diplomat at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh. At the time Siwarak was employed by the company that handles Cambodia's air traffic, Cambodian Air Traffic Services (CATS).

Municipal court prosecutor Sok Roeun told the German Press Agency dpa that Siwarak was also fined 10 million riel (2,500 dollars) in addition to his jail term.

A spokesman for the Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry said the sentencing was a matter for the court.

'And right now we have not had any news from Thailand [about the ruling],' said spokesman Koy Kuong.

Siwarak's arrest came during the surprise visit to Cambodia by Thaksin, who was appointed as an economic adviser to the Cambodian government and a personal adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The news of those appointments riled Bangkok, and relations between the two nations plunged to their lowest point in years.

Thaksin has an outstanding jail term against him in Thailand, but Cambodia rejected an extradition request filed by Bangkok during his visit.

In the diplomatic row surrounding the former Thai premier's visit, both nations recalled their ambassadors and expelled senior embassy staff. Neither ambassador has yet returned to their post.


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