Sunday, 1 August 2010

FM Kasit says no country wins or loses over delayed decision on temple

via Khmer NZ

PHUKET, July 31 -- Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya said Saturday that the decision by the UN cultural agency to postpone reviewing Cambodia’s development plan for the area adjacent to the ancient Preah Vihear temple by one year to 2011 did not represent either Thailand or Cambodia winning or losing.

Mr Kasit responded to Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An’s earlier remarks that Cambodia achieved its goal when UNESCO’s World Heritage Commission (WHC) agreed Thursday at its meeting in Brazil to consider its management plan for the Phra Vihear temple, listed as a World Heritage site.

But the WHC deferred its discussion on the issue to its meeting in Bahrain next year.

“Neither country wins on the issue. What he [Sok An] said Cambodia had won was [not correct]," Mr Kasit said, explaining that he did not understand why Mr Sok An, who led the Cambodian delegation to the Brasilia committee meeting, made such an announcement.

The WHC decided to defer its consideration of the matter for another year to enable the neighbouring countries to settle their differences regarding the disputed territory around Preah Vihear first, he said.

The International Court of Justice in 1962 ruled that the temple belongs to Cambodia. For Thailand the issue worsened on July 7, 2008, when Preah Vihear was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Under the terms of the listing, Cambodia is required to submit a management plan for WHC approval.

Vasin Teeravechyan, an adviser to the Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry and also chairman of the Thai side on the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC), said there has been no progress since the commission's last meeting because of differences in referring to the historic temple, the Cambodia and the United Nations referring to it in Cambodian, while the Thais wish to refer to it in Thai.

The Thais call the 11th century temple as ‘Phra Viharn’ while the Cambodians call it ‘Preah Vihear.’

The differences between Cambodia and Thailand in describing the temple is still under consideration by Parliament, said Mr Vasin. The JBC meeting could resume once a settlement on the name is reached.

Regarding the WHC decision to consider Cambodia’s management plan for the temple environs for another year, Mr Vasin said the decision would not have any effect -- positive or negative -- on the border demarcation as border talks are difficult by nature, but the pressure is rather from “within Thailand as people have different views on Preah Vihear temple.” (MCOT online news)

Child pornographer gets longer term for acts 'far beyond heartland of depravity'

via Khmer NZ

Judges called former construction company executive William Irey's conduct 'horrific' and 'far beyond the heartland of depravity.'

An appeals court increased William Irey's sentence for child pornography to 30 years.

By Susan Jacobson, Orlando Sentinel
July 30, 2010

A man who prosecutors say raped and sexually tortured dozens of little girls, then photographed the acts and posted them on the Internet, has been sentenced to the maximum 30 years in prison.

William Irey, 53, chief executive of Lake Buena Vista-based Frank Irey Construction, was originally sentenced to 17 1/2 years in federal prison.

Prosecutors appealed, and in a strongly worded decision spanning 256 pages, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta called Irey's crimes "horrific." The appeals judges ruled the the trial judge made a sentencing error.

Irey engaged in "sexual torture that went far beyond the heartland of depravity even for child molesters," the appeals court ruled. The court said Irey created "some of the most graphic and disturbing child pornography that has ever turned up on the internet."

Irey took the photos while he was in Cambodia, where, the court said, he preyed on vulnerable, poverty-stricken girls, had sex with them, sexually tortured them and wrote obscene, degrading words on their bodies. Investigators found more than 1,200 images on his computer.

The appeals court ruled the trial judge, U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell, placed too much weight on positive testimony by Irey's wife and other relatives, who said he was kind and supported charities and civic groups. Presnell handed down the lighter sentence in January 2008 because he concluded Irey was a victim of the "illness" of pedophilia and therefore could not control himself.

"The record does not support the district court's finding that because he is a pedophile Irey could not much help raping, sodomizing, and sexually torturing little children, posing them as trophies, and smiling while he did it," the majority wrote.

"The record actually contradicts that finding" because Irey did not seek treatment and he apparently did not abuse children in the U.S., the judges wrote.

The appeals court said a more stringent sentence would act as a deterrent for others.

According to the judges' ruling:

A psychiatrist said the long-married defendant visited prostitutes weekly and engaged in sado-masochistic acts with them for 15 years.

He began visiting Asian brothels during business trips to China. The 200-pound man had sex with children between the ages of 4 and 16 and paid $1,500 for the use of each child, typically buying two or three at a time. This pattern lasted for four or five years until August 2006, when law enforcement caught up with him.

Irey pleaded guilty in July 2007 to one count of employing, using, or enticing a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct outside the U.S. to produce a visual depiction of that conduct for the purpose of transporting it to the U.S. His pictures, known as "The "Pink Wall Series," were distributed worldwide on the Internet.

He spent 13 months In a psychiatric hospital after being released on bail.

"I've hurt a lot of people and I can't undo that, but I can learn from that and I'm willing to learn," Irey said in an apology to the judge, the government, family, friends and his victims.

In a video statement to the court, Irey's wife of then-25 years called him as "a loving and wonderful husband and father" who is "mindful of other people's feelings."

The appeals court, however, said Irey lied to his wife, stole from the business his father started 50 years earlier and drove Frank Irey Construction into the ground. The company, named after Irey's late father, a contractor and longtime Republican Party chairman in Washington County, Pa., was dissolved last year, corporate records show. The Ireys are from Monongahela, Pa.

"No number of civic club memberships can outweigh the harm that Irey caused his wife and family and the community," the judges wrote.

Irey is serving his sentence in a Federal Correctional Institute in Butner, N.C., a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney said.

Temple Row Sours Thai-Cambodian Ties—Again

via Khmer NZ

By MARWAAN MACAN-MARKAR / IPS Saturday, July 31, 2010


BANGKOK - Thailand’s tempestuous relationship with its eastern neighbor Cambodia looks set to worsen, fueled by the latest round of anger over the future of a 10th-century Hindu temple perched atop a steep cliff along the two countries’ border.

By Friday, Bangkok and Phnom Penh were both claiming victory following a decision by the UN-backed World Heritage Committee (WHC) to postpone until next year a decision about a management plan for the temple, a World Heritage Site listed by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Cambodia had an edge going into this week’s WHC’s meeting in Brasilia, after the much poorer and less powerful Southeast Asian nation had succeeded in getting the committee to recognize Preah Vihear as one of its own UNESCO heritage sites at a 2008 meeting in Quebec.

That decision enraged nationalists in more powerful and affluent Thailand. Nationalist groups rallied near the temple, chanting inflammatory slogans and accusing Cambodia of having “stolen” the temple from Thailand.

This wave of Thai hysteria, which drove both countries to increase their troop strength along the border to a dangerous level, sought to stamp out history that stood in Cambodia’s favor. In 1962, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) had ruled that Preah Vihear was within Cambodian territory, a ruling that was not challenged by Thailand, which was then under a military dictatorship.

But what the court in The Hague did not resolve was a 4.6 square-kilometer stretch of overlapping territory near Preah Vihear, making it a flashpoint along the disputed 800-km border the two kingdoms share. In fact, Thailand and Cambodia use different maps to demarcate their respective borders.

Fearing that a Cambodian plan to manage Preah Vihear may lead to a loss of Thai territory, the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva instructed its team at the WHC meeting, which included three ranking military officers, to challenge Phnom Penh’s management plan even to the point of Thailand threatening to quit the committee.

Thai anger was also reflected in protests staged outside the UNESCO office in Bangkok, prompting a letter of concern by Irina Bokova, the UN body’s director general, who called for “dialogue in safeguarding the Temple of Preah Vihear.”

“Protecting and enhancing our natural and cultural heritage, means building the peace, respect and solidarity which lies at the heart of UNESCO’s mission,” Bokova added. “It is our common responsibility to make these sites emblems of peace, dialogue and reconciliation.”

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya upped the ante with a stern letter to the WHC saying that Bangkok would not cooperate with any plans approved at the Brasilia meeting.

“As long as the demarcation (of the border) has not been finished, Thailand cannot cooperate with any decision by the WHC,” Kasit argued in his letter. “The WHC has also neglected the fact that the management plan for the Preah Vihear temple cannot achieve concrete results and be a success because it has ignored the Thai role in helping preserve the temple.”

But Kasit’s Cambodian counterpart dismissed attempts by Thai protesters to reverse the World Heritage listing of the Preah Vihear temple under Cambodia. “The enlistment of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site is already done,” Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong was quoted as saying by the Phnom Penh Post. “Whatever Thailand is doing cannot be changed.”

Chea Dara, deputy commander of Cambodia’s armed forces in Preah Vihear, offered a more ominous warning to Thai nationalists threatening to “invade” Cambodia. “Thai extremists should stop bothering Cambodia, because we will not welcome them,” he was quoted as saying in the Phnom Penh Post. “We will welcome them with guns.”

This brings to mind the past clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops assigned to protect their borders near the temple. In April 2009, an encounter between Thai and Cambodian troops there left three people dead.

“We cannot ask the WHC to delist the temple as a World Heritage Site,” said Puangthong Pawakapan, an assistant professor in international relations at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. “That decision will worsen the relationship.”

“To solve the territorial dispute, both side haves to be sensitive to each other’s concerns,” she told IPS. “There has to be give and take.”

But Thailand’s deeply divided political environment after two bloody crackdowns in recent months complicates this border dispute, she said. “As long as Thai politics cannot find unity, the Thai-Cambodian issue will not be resolved. The relationship will go up and down.”

The current spike in tensions over Preah Vihear exposes a broader fault line that has marred Thai-Cambodian ties in the past year.

In November 2009, both countries recalled their respective ambassadors after Bangkok protested Phnom Penh’s appointment of fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The same month saw the Thai government revoke an agreement with Cambodia to develop overlapping areas in the Gulf of Thailand rich in oil and gas.

That tense chapter came six years after a wave of nationalist hysteria in Phnom Penh saw protesters burn down the Thai embassy. The Cambodians had been angered by a Thai actress’ statement that allegedly questioned Cambodia’s ownership of the historic Angkor Wat complex. Thaksin was the Thai premier then.