Opposition party member Sok Yoeun was sentenced Wednesday to six months in jail by a Thai court for illegally entering that country, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Wednesday.
A second party member, Bangkok office head Sar Sophorn, is likely to be in court today for allegedly helping Sok Yoeun in his flight to Thailand after he became a suspect in last year’s Siem Reap rocket attack, he said.
Neither court action could be independently verified.
Thai papers reported Wednesday the Cambodia-born Thai Duang Suwan was also arrested for allegedly helping Sok Yoeun.
“I’m very satisfied by this. At least we know they are in legal hands,” Sam Rainsy said.
Since his name was first raised Dec 20 during a Thai parliamentary session, Sok Yoeun has been the focus of Cambodia’s first attempt to bring a suspect back to the country for prosecution.
Last week, the Cambodian government formally asked Thailand to cooperate on Sok Yoeun’s return, but Thai authorities did not immediately say they would do so, claiming they would first prosecute him under their own immigration laws.
Though both Thai and Cambodian officials deny this will strain relations between the two countries, Sok Yoeun’s jail term does at least delay extradition attempts and, some opposition party members say, casts doubt on Cambodia’s case against the Battambang province activist.
Party members and rights workers have been critical of the government’s attempts to find suspects in the rocket attack, which was called by Hun Sen’s supporters an attempt on the prime minister’s life.
Two Sam Rainsy Party members are in custody in Phnom Penh and a warrant has allegedly been issued by Cambodian military court for Sok Yoeun’s arrest, despite what rights workers have characterized as insufficient evidence against the men.
Sam Rainsy said Poovong Posai, the Thai lawyer representing both Sok Yoeun and Sar Sophorn, has 31 days to appeal the Thai court’s decision, though it is unclear if he will do so.