Agencies discuss ways to free Veera

State agencies are looking at ways to secure the release of Thai Patriots Network coordinator Veera Somkhwamkid, sentenced to eight years in jail for espionage by a Cambodian court in February, 2011.

He was arrested with six other Thais on Dec 29, 2010 while inspecting a disputed border near Ban Nong Chan village in Sa Kaeo’s Khok Sung district.

He was later sentenced for illegal entry, spying and entering a restricted military zone without permission.

Representatives of the Office of the Ombudsman, the Foreign Ministry, the Corrections Department and the Office of the National Human Rights Commission met yesterday to explore potential legal and diplomatic avenues for bringing Veera back to Thailand.

The meeting took place after Veera’s wife, Pis-umphai, recently petitioned the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) through the office of the Ombudsman, asking it to secure Veera’s transfer by extradition or by a royal pardon.

After the meeting yesterday, Ombudsman deputy secretary-general Raksakecha Chaechai said those present agreed there are possible channels to seek Veera’s release from Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh.

One option is to request a royal pardon from the Cambodian King.

However, Veera must have served two-thirds of his jail term to qualify.

Another option is to seek a further reduction of his jail sentence.

To do so, he is required to serve just one-third of his sentence.

The possibility of Veera being allowed to serve out his sentence in a Thai prison may have to be ruled out, Mr Raksakecha said, because prisoners convicted of security-related charges are not given transfers.

Veera’s brother, Preecha, said yesterday that the most viable option to secure the release of his sibling is to seek a royal pardon from Cambodia.

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