Thai five sentenced to jail, then freed

They were sentenced to nine months in prison and a fine of 1,000,000 riel (about 10,000 baht).

Since the five have served one month in prison already, the court  suspended the remaining eight-month jail term. The five Thais are now free to return home.

The five Thais released today are Democrat Party MP Panich Vikitsreth, Samdin Lertbutr, Tainae Mungmajon, Naruemol Chitvarattana and Kojpollathorn Chusanasevi.

The other two Thais still in custody are yellow-shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid and and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon. They face additional charges of spying. The Thai Foreign Ministry has said it will continue to provide help for them.

Upon leaving the courthouse, Mr Panich – who wore a blue cap with an Asean logo – said only that everything is for the spirit of Asean.

The seven Thais were arrested and charged with illegally entering Cambodia on Dec 29.

Dozens of police surrounded the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and nearby streets for the hearing, which started at 2pm.

Mr Panich was first to testify, followed by the four others.

The hearing ended about 5pm.

The five gave similar terstimony, that they had no intention to trespass on the Cambodian soil. They said they did not know it was a restricted area because they could not read the signboards, which are written in Cambodian.

Mr Panich said he did not take pictures or video images of the area because he had with him only a mobile telephone.

He said he met a villager on the way but did not talk to him, so he did not know he was already in Cambodian territory.

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