BANGKOK, Sept 30 – The Cambodian government is expected to commute the prison sentences of two Thai activists detained in Phnom Penh for espionage, a Thai government spokesperson said on Friday.
A Cambodian court on Feb 1 ruled that Veera Somkwamkid, a coordinator of Thailand’s Patriots Network, and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, were guilty of espionage, illegal entry, and trespassing in a military zone.
Mr Veera was sentenced to an eight-year jail term while Ms Ratree was handed a six-year jail term. Their petitions seeking a royal pardon were rejected as the Cambodian government asserted the two must serve two-thirds of their jail terms first.
The Phnom Penh Post earlier reported a possible prisoner exchange between Thailand and Cambodia.
Thai government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisaeng confirmed that Thai Defence Minister Gen Yutthasak Sasiprapa had raised the idea of a prisoner transfer with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during his recent visit to the neighbouring country.
The transfer however was understood as being not possible given that the pair must serve one-third of their assigned jail terms. Moreover, the case was a serious crime concerning security threat which makes prisoner transfers impossible, Ms Thitima said.
“It was expected that the Cambodian government might consider commuting jail terms for the two Thai activists on the upcoming special occasion to mark the birthday anniversary of Samdech Norodom Sihanouk, father of King Norodom Sihamoni, which falls on Oct 31,” the government spokesperson said.
“The government wants to secure the release of Mr Veera and Ms Ratree as soon as possible,” Ms Thitima stated.