World Court resumes temple case hearings as Thais protest at border

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BANGKOK, Apr 17 – Thailand delivered its oral statements in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague today as several civil society groups headed to the Thai-Cambodian border near Phra Viharn (Preah Vihear) temple in a show of patriotism.

A number of Thais attempted to raise a national flag on the disputed border territory only to be barred by the authorities.

Thai ambassador to The Hague Veerachai Plasai was the first member of the Thai legal team giving a defence statement before the World Court starting at 10am (3pm Thai local time).

Cambodia sought an interpretation of the ICJ’s 1962 judgment concerning a plot of land, covering 4.6 sq km, adjacent to the ancient temple which Phnom Penh had earlier applied to register as a World Heritage site.

The Court did not rule on ownership of the surrounding land in the 1962 verdict.

Mr Veerachai said Thailand has adhered to the World Court’s 1962 verdict and Cambodia had not objected (to the border demarcation) in the last 50 years.

Charging Cambodia with failing to produce new evidence, Mr Veerachai argued that the neighbouring country has no right to petition the Court for a new ruling.

He said Cambodia has attempted to intrude on Thai soil and breached a bilateral memorandum of understanding – activities to which Thailand has objected and offered to negotiate under the two countries Joint Border Committee (JBC).

Instead, Cambodia has provoked its neighbour and Thailand had no choice but to defend itself, he said, adding that there was no new dispute as claimed by Phnom Penh.

He said that the evidence concerning Annex I Map, produced by Cambodia, was incorrect and counterfeit.

Meanwhile in Thailand’s northeastern province of Si Ka Ket, several civil society groups, led by the Thai Patriotic Group, moved to Phra Viharn temple today, carrying with them a 21-metre national flag to be erected on the disputed territory near the temple.

They were stopped by the Thai authorities and could not reach their intended destination. The protestors finally dispersed and agreed to give the flag to soldiers and Kantharalak district chief so the latter could pursue their intention, taking the flag to the disputed area for them.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said he has instructed the Si Sa Ket governor and police chief to control the situation to prevent any violence.