Cambodian FM Proposes Prisoner Swap with Thailand

Posted December 29th, 2011 at 10:50 am (UTC-5)
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Cambodia says it would consider repatriating two Thai nationalists jailed on espionage charges, if the Thai government requests and agrees to a prisoner swap.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong made the offer public Thursday at a joint news conference in Phnom Penh with his Thai counterpart Surapong Tovichakchaikul.

“I told Mr. Surapong that if (the) Thailand side makes the request for the exchange of prisoners between Cambodia and Thailand as a package then the royal government of Cambodia would consider the release of two Thai prisoners.”

Thai nationalist politician Veera Somkwamkid and his secretary were jailed on espionage charges earlier this year after their convictions for crossing illegally into Cambodia.

Veera was a lawmaker in the former royalist government, which was ousted in July elections. He led a delegation to the Cambodian border in January as tensions flared between the two Southeast Asian neighbors over longstanding border disputes.

Within weeks of the arrests, troops from both sides exchanged gun and artillery fire along a remote border area near a revered 900-year-old Hindu-Khmer temple. Prisoners were taken by both sides.

Some 30 people were killed in the exchanges, and thousands of others were displaced before tensions subsided.