Thailand will find out this afternoon whether it will be ordered to withdraw its troops from around Preah Vihear temple, as demanded by Cambodia in the International Court of Justice.The ICJ will hold a public hearing at the Peace Palace in The Hague at 3pm Thailand time, during which the president of the court, Judge Hisashi Owada, will read its deliberations on the issue.
The verdict will be based on the decision of the majority of its 15 judges.
Outgoing Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya is heading the Thai legal team at the hearing, while the Cambodian team will be led by Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.Kasit: Confident court will back Thailand
Mr Kasit said the Thai team felt excited ahead of the decision and the members were hopeful that the hearing would be favourable to Thailand, as it has prepared for many years to fight the case.
"Although I am not a lawyer, I believe our arguments are reasonable under legal principles and cover all issues raised in Cambodia's request," Mr Kasit said.
"I hope our arguments will be reasonable enough for the 15 judges."
Cambodia submitted its request to the ICJ on April 28 to interpret its 1962 ruling on the case concerning Preah Vihear.
The petition was accompanied by Phnom Penh's request for provisional measures that include an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Thai troops from areas around the temple, a ban on all Thai military activity in the area, and that Thailand refrain from any act which could interfere with Cambodian rights over the temple.
Two rounds of oral testimony on Cambodia's request for the provisional measures were held on May 30 and 31.
Thailand and Cambodia were later asked to send additional information about the situation and evacuees affected by the fighting at Ta Muen and Ta Kwai temples, which are near Preah Vihear, to the court on June 7.
Thai ambassador to the Hague Virachai Plasai and three foreign lawyers have been assigned to defend the Thai position.
A legal source said there were two criteria which the ICJ could consider when deciding provisional measures: to stop any further damage if it has already occurred; and to protect the temple from any damage that might occur.
During the oral testimony to the ICJ, Thailand argued that Bangkok and Phnom Penh had no conflict over the scope and meaning of the 1962 verdict.
Therefore, the court has no jurisdiction to interpret its three-point verdict to which Thailand had already complied since it was issued in 1962.
The three-point ruling included Thailand's acceptance that Preah Vihear temple is situated on Cambodian soil, an agreement to withdraw troops from the temple and to return antiques to Cambodia.
In principle, the court has no jurisdiction to consider the boundary issue, the source said.
Thailand and Cambodia signed a memorandum of understanding in 2000 which also covered the boundary issue.
It is not necessary for Thailand to send a letter to oppose the court's jurisdiction in interpreting its previous verdict because Thailand has opposed it all along and this position has not changed.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said there are three possible scenarios in the ICJ's ruling.
The ICJ might endorse Cambodia's request and order Thailand to comply with it, or the court might see it is unnecessary to issue any provisional measure because the request is outside the court's jurisdiction.
Finally, it might order provisional measures different from those which Cambodia has requested.
The ICJ will explain its order, whichever scenario it goes for, he said.
Thailand continued to insist the boundary issue was not under the court's jurisdiction, he said.
The source said if the court considered it has no jurisdiction to issue the provisional measures, the issue will be put to rest immediately.
But if the court said it has jurisdiction and the situation now is not considered harmful to the temple, it could choose not to order any action.
Second Army commander Lt Gen Thawatchai Samutsakhon said he will wait for the government's instructions after the ICJ's ruling.
In Si Sa Ket province, a group in Kantharalak district put up a huge sign yesterday calling on all Thais to unite and to protect Thai sovereignty ahead of the ICJ's verdict today.
Thongkham Kanthawong, a villager from Phum Srol in Kantharalak district, said he disagreed with any troop withdrawal from the disputed area as the demarcation work there has not yet been completed.
Mr Thongkham said most of the residents in the village were still worried about the border situation.