Four Thai detainees in Cambodia likely to be freed soon

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SA KAEO, March 28 — Four Thai miners detained in Cambodia for alleged illegal entry since Friday are expected to be released soon after the court sought relevant documents to confirm their employment by a gold mining company, a senior Thai immigration police officer said here on Wednesday.

Sa Kaeo deputy immigration police chief Pol Lt-Col Benchapol Rodsawat said the four are now in custody at the court in Sisophon, provioncial seat of Banteay Meanchey province, not in prison.

All are in good condition and awaiting the court’s ruling, he said.

The officer said the court asked their employer which is a gold mining company in Oddar Meanchey to submit documents regarding their previously granted permission to bring in a power generator and mine surveying equipment to Cambodia to show the court.

In addition, the court ordered customs officers at the Poi Pet checkpoint, bordering Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province, to examine the seized items to calculate custom duties to be levied for bringing the power generator and survey equipments into Cambodia.

Col Benchapol said he believed the court would consider fining the four and release them within two or three days.

The four are two couples, Saran and Suriya Panphet, both 43, Sa Kaeo natives and the mining contractors, and their assistants, Bai Sodachan and his wife, Ms Wanwisa, both 24.

The four were detained while driving two pick-up trucks to survey a mine in Cambodian territory nine kilometres from the Thai-Cambodian border.

Meanwhie, Sa Kaeo Governor Sanit Naksooksri said after attending the Thai-Cambodian Regional Border Committee (RBC) at Siem Reap that the Cambodian authorities assured him that they would coordinate seeking a release of the detainees. He was optimistic that they would be freed after the mining company confirms their employment.