Friday, July 4, 2014

Thais free 14 Cambodian workers

Cambodian migrant workers stand in a truck head towards the Thai-Cambodian border check point near Poipet late last week. Hong Menea

The Phnom Penh Post
Thu, 3 July 2014
Chhay Channyda

Charges against 14 Cambodia migrant workers arrested in Thailand last month have been dropped and the group will return to the Kingdom tomorrow, government officials have told the Post.

A hearing at the Sa Kaeo provincial court in Thailand this morning determined that the workers had been deceived by their brokers, according to Pich Vanna, chief of the Cambodia-Thailand border relations office.


“They will be released soon today and will return to Cambodia tomorrow through Poipet international checkpoint,” Vanna said.

“[The court] found them guilty of having fake documents, but because they were cheated and didn’t mean to use the fake documents, the court decided to drop charges against them.”

The workers were arrested at the border for possessing fake visas as they tried to return to Cambodia amid last month’s sudden mass exodus of migrant workers from Thailand.

The announcement comes a day after "yellow shirt" activist Veera Somkwamkid arrived back in Thailand after being granted a royal pardon in Cambodia.

Clemency for Veera, who was three years in to his eight-year espionage sentence, was arranged during a Thai delegation’s two-day visit to Phnom Penh earlier this week. During the discussions, Prime Minister Hun Sen asked for a reciprocated release, calling on Thailand to free the 14 jailed Cambodian migrants.

Both governments have denied that the releases were a prisoner swap or resulted from any sort of exchange of favours.

By contrast, political analysts have predicted since the 14 workers were arrested that such a diplomatic deal would take place, and potentially improve Cambodia’s relations with the Thai junta.

Neth Serey, Cambodia consular for Sa Kaeo province, was unavailable to provide the list of names and ages of the soon-to-be-released workers.

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