Thailand’s opposition Puea Thai Party is preparing to intervene in the case of jailed Thai engineer Siwarak Chotipong and may even send a delegation to Cambodia on his behalf, a source within the party said yesterday from Bangkok.
Mr Siwarak, an employee of Cambodian Air Traffic Services, was sentenced on Tuesday to seven years in prison for passing information about the flight schedule of fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to a Thai diplomat during Mr Thaksin’s highly publicized visit to Cambodia last month.
Mr Thaksin has strong links to Puea Thai.
“We are making a 100 percent effort to free a fellow Thai citizen,” said a representative of the Puea Thai Party who was authorized to speak with a reporter by the party’s spokesman Phrompong Nopparit.
“We want everybody to know that we fully accept the Cambodian justice system, and Mr Siwarak also fully accepts the decision, but besides that we are trying to work on steps to free him,” said the representative, who declined to give his name.
“We and the Thai government are not working together on this matter. It’s all our own effort,” he said, also saying that the Puea Thai Party may soon send a delegation to Phnom Penh to seek the release of Mr Siwarak.
Mr Siwarak’s mother, Simarak Na Nakhon Phanom, was reported yesterday as having sought the Puea Thai Party’s assistance after the verdict was announced.
The newspaper the The Nation also said Ms Simarak openly blamed Kamrob Palawatwichai, the former first secretary of the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, for her son’s plight. Mr Siwarak said in court that he had passed Mr Kamrob information after the diplomat called him to request Mr Thaksin’s flight plan.
Thani Thongphakdi, a spokesman for the Thai Foreign Ministry, said yesterday that Mr Kamrob had done nothing wrong by asking for the flight plan.
“I certainly understand how a mother must feel in such a situation, but regarding Mr Kamrob, what he did was in the bounds of duty as a diplomat in Phnom Penh,” Mr Thani said. “I think it is normal practice for embassies to verify news reports, and that is what he did.”
Ms Simarak has decided to seek a royal pardon for her son rather than embarking on a possibly lengthy appeals process, according to the Puea Thai source.
Mr Siwarak’s lawyer, Khieu Sambo, said yesterday he was unsure whether his client would file an appeal because they had not yet discussed it. Any such motion is due within 30 days of the verdict.