A civil court in Thailand threw out a lawsuit this week filed by several Thai academics that accused Prime Minister Hun Sen and two other senior Cambodian ministers of violating the rights and liberties of Thais by intruding upon the disputed area around the Preah Vihear temple, Thai media reported yesterday.
According to the English language newspaper the Bangkok Post, Thai historian Thepmontri Limpaphayom and eight other scholars filed the legal grievance that named the Cambodian premier, Cabinet Minister Sok An and Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong as defendants. The suit alleged the Cambodian leaders trampled on the rights of Thais by claiming the temple and the adjacent 4.6 square km of disputed land, according to the newspaper.
The lawsuit had asked for the court to order Cambodian troops to withdraw from the disputed area and to order the Unesco World Heritage registrar to withdraw Cambodia’s listing of the 11th-century temple as a World Heritage site.
The court rejected the suit, saying the case was not a civil matter and that the plaintiffs had no grounds to take legal action against the three defendants.
A spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kuy Kuong, said the lawsuit was launched by extreme Thai nationalists and believed the court made the correct decision in dismissing the suit.
“I think the Thai court performed in the right way,” Mr Kuong said yesterday. “The complaint is stupid. This is why the court threw it out.”
Mr Kuong did not know when the suit was filed and the Bangkok Post made no mention of the date. Mr Kuong also said he did not know if the foreign ministry or Mr Namhong were ever officially notified of the suit’s filing and subsequent dismissal.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the lawsuit served only to whip up nationalistic fervor in Thailand instead of moving the border dispute closer to a conclusion.
“It was just what we call a provocative act,” Mr Siphan said, adding that the two nations could resolve the dispute through the existing Joint Boundary Commission.
“That is its job,” he said of the bilateral commission.