The Thai authorities on Wednesday morning sent 70 alleged illegal immigrants (65 Rohingya refugees and five Myanmar men) to detention at the Satun Immigration Police Office and two local police stations.
The confinement is related to a probe launched on Tuesday into alleged human trafficking. National police inspector-general Pol General Suchat Theerasawat will join the case meeting in the afternoon, a police source said.
At the Chalung Police Station where he was detained along with some 20 Rohingya, the 49-year-old boat captain, Thai national Sangkhom Paphan from Ranong province, allegedly admitted that he was hired at Bt100,000 by a Myanmar investor to collect the immigrants from Bangladesh and transport them to Malaysia. Authorities have laid initial charges against him for bringing illegal immigrants into the country.
The captain and 70 passengers were rounded up by Third Naval Region officers on Tuesday after their vessel, which ran out of gas three days earlier, was swept ashore at Koh Rawi in Tambon Koh Sarai of Satun’s Muang district. They were brought to the mainland in Langu district at 10pm on Tuesday.
Sangkhom said that when the boat ran out of gas he anchored it in mid-seas for three days to await a refill delivery, as the investor had promised, but it failed to arrive before strong waves swept the boat to the shore – information which was in line with the immigrants’ initial testimony.
Meanwhile, Satun Islamic Committee president Arun Maji said he had instructed his deputy to co-ordinate donations for food aid and needed items for the 65 Muslim Rohingya. He said he had heard that the Rohingya would on Wednesday evening be sent to stay at a shelter in Songkhla’s Rattaphum district.