Government rejects reports of Thai fugitive in Cambodia

The Cambodian government yesterday denied a Thai media report that Thai fugitive Arisman Pongruangrong is hiding here.

The Bangkok daily The Nation reported Friday that Mr Arisman, an associate of the captured “red-shirt” terrorism suspect Surachai Thewarat, had fled to Cambodia. According to The Nation, Mr Surachai confessed to Thai investigators that Mr Arisman had accompanied him to Cambodia in late May, after the Thai government finally quashed violent red-shirt protests in Bangkok.

The Cambodian Foreign Ministry did not mince words yesterday in rejecting the claim.

“The government absolutely dismisses this report,” said Koy Kuong, the ministry’s spokesman. “There is no Arisman hiding in Cambodia. There is not even the shadow of Arisman at the border gates.”

Mr Kuong said the Thai government had not informed Cambodia of Mr Arisman’s presence here or asked for help in finding him.

“No contact from the Thais,” he said, adding: “If anyone [here] is a terrorist, there is no need for them to ask us to get him. Whenever [he] is seen, [we] will arrest him.”

In late June the government rejected as “groundless and ill-intentioned” Thai media reports that two Thai nationals accused of masterminding a Bangkok bomb attack were hiding in Cambodia.

However, less than a week later, the two bomb suspects were found, arrested and handed over to Thai authorities. Cambodian authorities said at the time of the handover that they had arrested the pair, who had yet to be charged with any crime and were not the subject of any extradition request, on the basis of media reports.

Mr Kuong later explained that the government had no knowledge that the two suspects were in Cambodia when it dismissed these same news media accounts.

Mr Arisman, an outspoken red-shirt leader, is perhaps best known for a dramatic rope descent made from the third floor of a Bangkok hotel in April after Thai special forces raided the building.



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