Cambodia 'altering maps': Thai legal team

Supalak Ganjanakhundee in The Hague/The Nation
Asia News Network

The Hague (The Nation/ANN) - Testifying at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) yesterday, Thailand's legal team rejected Cambodia's allegation that Bangkok had made a "unilateral delimitation" of the vicinity of the Preah Vihear temple, and accused Cambodia of doctoring maps submitted to the court.

The Thai government fully implemented the court's 1962 judgement, and this implementation was recognised by then Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodia's leader at the time, when he visited the temple shortly after the judgement, said Thai agent Virachai Plasai.

"But now we are told, 50 years later, that this recognition was false," Virachai told the court yesterday.

The ICJ had ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear Temple is situated on territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia and ordered Thailand to withdraw troops from the temple and its vicinity.

Responding to the testimony, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said the facts put forward in the Thai presentation were wrong. He said the Thai team presented many maps, but the map used the its 1962 judgement is the Annex I map. Much of the material presented by Thailand was unnecessary, he said.

Cambodia on Monday said the right way to determine the temple's "vicinity" is to follow the lines on a French map of 1:200,000 scale. Virachai argued that Cambodia saw nothing wrong with Thailand's actions until 2007, when Phnom Penh wanted additional areas adjacent to the temple to be included in the inscription of Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage site.

According to Virachai, the disputed 4.6 square kilometre area was not at the core of the conflict in the previous case, and is larger than the area considered to be the vicinity of the temple in accordance with the second paragraph of the operative clause of the original judgement.

A map expert on the Thai legal team, Alina Miron, explained to the court that the dispute over the 4.6 square kilometres reflects the fact that different lines occur on different maps, which have been reproduced for different purposes.

Besides the Annex I map referred to by Cambodia, Miron showed the court that there were as many as 59 other maps and sketch maps brought before the court during the trial more than half a century ago.

Cambodia had ignored many maps and did not show a genuine version of Annex I to the court this time, she said. The Annex I map was used in the previous trial simply to demonstrate that Preah Vihear is situated on the Cambodian side, but this time Cambodia has asked the court to use the map for the purposes of demarcating the border itself, she said.

Map expert's points:

- Both countries submitted 59 maps to the court in 1959-1960, but Cambodia focused on Annex I.

- The overlapping area of 4.6 square km did not exist in the previous case, and the new disputed area of 4.6 square km is the result of reproducting the Annex I map

- Many versions of Annex I maps express different boundary lines

- Lines on old maps cannot be transformed into lines on modern maps.