Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sivarak's mum to see him tomorrow

The Nation: Detained Thai national Sivarak Chutipong will have a chance to see his mother tomorrow, two weeks after being detained in Phnom Penh on a charge of spying, the Thai Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

Sivarak, an employee of Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS), was accused of illegally obtaining flight information relating to fugitive ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra and passing the details to a Thai diplomat, who was later expelled from Cambodia.

Sivarak was arrested on November 12 after Thaksin, who was appointed as an economic adviser to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, flew into Phnom Penh to give a lecture on economic strategy.

His mother, Simarak Na Nakhon Phanom, will meet Sivarak at Prey Sor prison on the outskirts of Phnom Penh tomorrow afternoon, ministry spokesperson Wimon Kidchob said.

Bangkok Post Kao Soupha, his defence lawyer, expected the Cambodian court will begin his trial on December 8 but it was unclear whether the court would rule on his case on that day.

The lawyer filed a bail request for him on Monday but the court has yet to decide whether to release him.

Suwanna Suwanjuta, head of the Justice Ministry's rights and freedom protection department, who returned from Phnom Penh yesterday, said Sivarak was detained in a cell with four other inmates, despite the fact cells usually hold 25 inmates

Sivarak's case is a part of a conflict with Cambodia. Thailand downgraded relations with its neighbour after Thaksin was appointed as an adviser to Hun Sen.

The arrest of Sivarak sparked a rumour that Hun Sen's daughter would take over CATS, which is a Samart Corp subsidiary.

Watchai Vilailuck, president of Samart Corp, insisted yesterday that the company had never been approached by the Cambodian government or any members of Prime Minister Hun Sen's family to take over CATS.

The move was a temporary measure meant to ensure security and the company had received confirmation that once the trial of its employee was over, CATS could resume normal operations, he said in a statement.

The company had won full support from Cambodia since the concession started in 2001, it said. Cambodia had never seized any concession run by a foreign company. So Samart was confident its 32-year deal would remain in place.

Samart also insisted that it had no involvement in politics.
"The domestic political rift has had a sizeable impact on the company and we don't want this to intensify through political involvement," Watchai said.

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