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9 detainees confess owning war weapons

Nine of the 92 Thais being detained in Myanmar confessed to possessing war weapons after undergoing two days of intensive grilling by a new team of interrogators, a military source said yesterday.

The nine detainees will face prosecution at a later date, even though they have been insisting that the firearms were meant for selfprotection. They reportedly possessed M16 and AK47 assault rifles, hand grenades, handguns and homemade bombs.

Myanmar authorities' efforts to single out those who possessed war weapons prolonged the legal process after all 92 detainees were convicted for illegal entry and encroaching on Myanmar land. They were all subsequently sentenced to threeandahalfyears in prison about two weeks ago.

The authorities then dispatched a new team of interrogators and officials with expertise in encroachment and other related laws to start a new legal process against the detainees because the officials at hand lacked the skills needed for the job, the source added.

Colonel Pornsak Phoolsawat, who heads the local ThaiMyanmar border committee, said the case of the 83 detainees would be handed over to the federal Myanmar government for consideration of a possible pardon or reduction in the sentence in line with President Thein Sein's promise. During his official visit to Thailand last month, Thein Sein had promised that he would push for leniency for the detainees.


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