A court in Ranong province has sentenced four Thais to up to 10 years in prison for their involvement in the deaths of 54 illegal workers from Myanmar who suffocated to death inside a seafood container in 2008.
Myanmarese workers have long been required by the Thai labour market, particularly in the fishery and construction sectors, while Myanmar people want to land jobs in Thailand due to the higher income.
The victims were among 121 people packed into a seafood container with a broken ventilation system travelling from Ranong to the seaside province of Phuket in April 9, 2008.
During the journey, seeing that some of the workers had started collapsing due to lack of air, their friends banged on the walls of the container to alert the driver, Suchon Boonplong, who ignored them. He finally stopped the truck and opened the back of the container, fleeing the scene when he saw the dead bodies.
Suchon later surrendered to police and implicated four others: the truck owner, Dumrong Pussadee, Chalermchai Warischanpleng, Jirawat Sopapanwarakul and Punchalee Chusung. The four were charged with involvement in the human smuggling network and gross negligence resulting in death.
Dumrong, the truck owner, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, Chalermchai nine years, Jirawat and Suchon six years each and Panchalee three years.