>Thai PM may face treason charge over Cambodia temple deal

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Prince Damrong of Thailand visited Preah Vihear in 1929 and he was received by the colonial French officials.

BANGKOK (AFP) — Anti-government activists Monday urged Thailand’s top anti-corruption watchdog to consider treason charges against the prime minister for backing a deal with Cambodia on a disputed Hindu temple.

The Constitutional Court last week ruled that Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and his cabinet had violated the charter by signing a deal on the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple without seeking parliament’s approval.

Foreign minister Noppadon Pattama resigned over the controversy, which has raised the threat of impeachment proceedings against the cabinet.

Now royalist activists from the so-called People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) want Samak and other top officials, including deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra, to face treason charges, which are punishable by execution.

Samak and his ruling People Power Party are closely aligned with Thaksin, who was toppled in a coup by royalist generals two years ago.

“The cabinet members, senior officials and former prime minister Thaksin committed severe crimes against the country,” PAD spokesman Suriyasai Katasila told AFP.

The PAD submitted a letter Monday to the National Counter Corruption Commission, urging an investigation into the entire 34-member cabinet as well as Thaksin, top foreign ministry officials, and the Thai ambassador to France, the spokesman said.

The letter accused the cabinet of causing Thailand to lose territory to Cambodia, working to benefit a foreign state, and inciting an international conflict.

The scandal began last month when Noppadon signed a deal with Cambodia, backing its effort to win World Heritage status for the temple.

Although the World Court ruled in 1962 that the temple belongs to Cambodia, critics of the government have stoked a nationalist uproar, accusing the government of giving away Thai land to Cambodia.

The exact border around the temple has never been agreed. The dispute has raised tensions in both countries, with Cambodia closing the temple after Thai protesters tried to march to the site.

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