By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
Thailand and Cambodia yesterday submitted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) maps and graphics to demonstrate the area surrounding Preah Vihear Temple, in response to a question raised last week by Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, after the hearing o
Cambodian officials had said they defined the temple area in accordance with a line indicated on the French Annex I map of 1:200,000 scale, but declined to say how large it is.
“If we want to know about the vicinity of the temple [Preah Vihear] it is clearly defined by the Annex I map,” Cambodia’s Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters after the court hearing last week.
The Cabinet on Tuesday approved a map proposed by the Foreign Ministry to demonstrate to the court the area around Preah Vihear. The map has not been made public, but military officers and officials at the ministry said that the area delineated corresponded with the 1962 Thai cabinet resolution on the issue.
Thailand and Cambodia have been at loggerheads over the location of the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear and its territory for decades. The ICJ ruled in 1962 that the temple was situated on territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia. Under the ruling, Thailand was obliged to withdraw its troops from the temple and the “vicinity”.
However, the ruling provided no details on the territory that comprised the vicinity surrounding the temple. The Thai cabinet therefore decided that 0.28 square kilometres of territory made up the vicinity of the historic site. Thailand then informed the ICJ that it believed the 0.28 square kilometres was the area from which it should withdraw its troops.
Over the years, Thailand has further argued that the total area in dispute is no larger than 0.35 square kilometres, but Cambodia claims all areas below the boundary line in the Annex I map – including the disputed area of 4.6 square kms – belong to the temple.
Thailand’s legal team, headed by Virachai Plasai, will submit the requested documents by next Friday to the ICJ, according to Foreign Ministry deputy permanent secretary Nuttavudh Photisaro.
He said the documents as well as Thailand’s accompanying remarks would not be made public at this time, in order to avoid impacting the case.
In a related development, the Supreme Court’s division for political office holders yesterday accepted a petition by the national anti-graft body against former foreign minister Noppadon Pattama over a joint communique in support of Cambodia’s effort to list Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage site in 2008.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission accused Noppadon of misconduct in accordance with Article 175 of the Penal Code for his role in signing the joint communique.
The joint communique, as cited by the Constitutional Court years earlier, is deemed a treaty with a foreign country requiring parliamentary approval before it can be signed.
Noppadon said yesterday that he had not violated Article 190 of the Constitution, as the article does not make clear what kind of documents signed with a foreign country require parliamentary approval.