Probe complete in Rohingya case

A police officer listens as a Rohingya trafficking victim leads a police unit to a camp where he was detained in.
PHOTO: Reuters

POLICE WILL today submit the human trafficking investigation case involving Rohingya and other migrants to the public prosecutor at Songkhla's Nathawee Provincial Court.

The case would then be forwarded to the Office of the Attorney-General tomorrow, Provincial Police Region 8 deputy chief Pol General Pawin Pongsirin said.

At the Hat Yai Police Station, Pawin said the 80-strong investigator team - whose many members would move on to new assignments in October - would submit 271,300 pages to the prosecutor following the five-month investigation.

In the criminal case of human trafficking, there were 155 suspects, two of whom are now deceased. So far, 91 suspects have been arrested and 62 others are still on the run.

Money-laundering allegedly involved 81 people - of whom 79 suspects have been served arrest warrants while two are dead. Police claim to have caught 40 suspects so far while 39 remain on the run. The investigation alleged that these 81 suspects carried out money-laundering crimes on 4,000 occasions.

Police investigators agreed to file the lawsuit against all suspects on criminal and money-laundering charges, as they were confident the evidence was solid, Pawin said.

The investigation concluded yesterday because the senior official overseeing it, Pol General Ake Angsananont, was due to serve as permanent secretary to the PM's Office on October 1.

This did not mean the case was complete. If the fugitive suspects were to surrender on October 3 or 4, the investigator team would probe and proceed accordingly, he explained. However the new arrest warrant issuance and probe would be undertaken by the new team with a new commander.

This officer would soon be assigned to oversee this case in place of of Ake, he said.

Meanwhile, Chumphon-based Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) officer, Captain Wisut Bunnak - one of four military men wanted in the case - was yesterday presented for the court's permission for a 12-day detention period.

Wisut surrendered to Pawin on Monday to hear the charges but has maintained his innocence. Pawin said Wisut had been subjected to a seven-hour interrogation and he wasn't a scapegoat.

Three other wanted military men were identified as Satun-based ISOC officer Colonel Natthasit Maksuwan, Chumphon-based ISOC officer Capt Santad Phetnoi and Royal Navy Region 3 officer in Phuket, Commander Kampanat Sangthongchin.

Malay Tohdin, ex-chief of Satun's Puyu sub-district administration organisation, suffered a stroke while in detention at the Nathawee Prison on Monday and was sent to Hat Yai Hospital for treatment.

Meanwhile, Social Development and Human Security Minister Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew yesterday visited Yala province to inspect the living conditions of alleged human trafficking victims at the provincial shelter.

Deutsche Presse-Agentur yesterday quoted Thai government Public Relations Department as saying the authority had seized assets, worth more than Bt60 million belonging to officials charged in absentia with trafficking.

The trafficking network came to light earlier this year after investigators discovered mass graves of refugees at a camp in southern Thailand.

The ensuing outcry and crackdown stranded thousands of migrants in boats off Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, as traffickers refused to land.

In August, the Anti-Money Laundering Office seized savings bonds, land deeds and cash totaling Bt38 million from the same smuggling ring.

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