Thaksin: Thais Won’t Extradite Sok Yoeun

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Tuesday his government would not extradite a Sam Rainsy Party activist accused of attempting to assassinate Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Sok Yoeun was arrested in Bangkok in December 1999 for illegally entering Thailand. He had fled Cambodia after a rocket attack on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s motorcade in Siem Reap.

Sok Yoeun had been granted temporary refugee status in Thai­land by the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees, but was ar­rested after Phnom Penh sought his return.

Responding a question if he would consider sending Sok Yoeun back to Cambodia, Thak­sin gave a terse “no” just before boarding a Royal Thai Air Force plane bound for Burma.

Hun Sen was unharmed in the September 1998 attack, but one by­stander was killed. Opposition party members have repeatedly called the government’s extradition efforts an attempt to intimidate the Sam Rainsy Party.

Thaksin’s departure from Pochentong Airport con­cluded a two-day visit in which the two governments agreed to cooperate on several so­cial and economic initiatives, including potentially lucrative joint oil exploration in the Gulf of Siam.

A 15-point statement included agreements to control illegal logging along the border, to work to demine the border area, to fight human and illegal drug trafficking and to upgrade roads and rail links between the two countries.

Thaksin also presented gifts of a bulletproof car and medicine to Hun Sen and the government at a signing ceremony at the Council of Ministers Monday.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday after a meeting with National Assembly President Prince Noro­dom Ran­ariddh, Thaksin hailed “a new era of cooperation be­tween Thailand and Cambodia and in the region.”

“We are heading toward closer cooperation socially and politically,” he said.

In addition to his meeting with Prince Ranariddh, Thaksin met with King Noro­dom Sihanouk and with Senate Pres­ident Chea Sim Tuesday morning. He laid a wreath in a brief ceremony at the Indepen­dence Monument and also met at the Thai embassy with local Thai in­ves­tors.

With Prince Ranariddh at his side outside the National As­sembly, Thaksin said political stability in Cambodia is “very, very strong.”


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