Thai team to fight temple dispute with a ‘twist’ from Cambodia

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BANGKOK, March 28 – The legal team defending the Thai position in the Phra Viharn (Preah Vihear) dispute next month will insist on the world court’s impotence to give a ruling on the land dispute as proposed by Cambodia.

Veerachai Palasai, Thai ambassador to The Hague, said the Cambodian complaint about a plot of land adjacent to the Phra Viharn (Preah Vihear) temple was a new issue and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is not authorised to take it into consideration.

Cambodia told the ICJ that it wanted the court to reinterpret its 1962 decision concerning the 4.6 sq km of scrubland near the temple to determine if the land belongs to Cambodia or Thailand.

Mr Veerachai said Cambodia had submitted the issue to the ICJ in 1959 only to have  the petition rejected, and that the Thai legal team will stress that it is a similar issue and that the court is not empowered to reconsider it.

Cambodia will give an oral statement before the ICJ on April 14 to be followed by Thailand on the next day. Cambodia is scheduled to make its closing statement on April 17 while Thailand will follow.

Mr Veerachai said the Thai Foreign Ministry will set up a media centre on April 14-19 during which authorised interpreters will be available to give word-for-word translation of the court sessions, to be broadcast via the Internet.

He gave reassurances that the Thai legal team will do its best in defending the case.