Court: transport of Rohingyas not connected to international crime
A HUMAN trafficker has been sentenced to 34 years in prison and fined Bt200,000 for illegally transporting Rohingya migrants within Thailand, but the provincial court in Nakorn Si Thammarat’s Pak Phanang district dismissed links to a trans-national crime operation.
The court convicted Sunon “Ko Mit” Saengthong of human trafficking while two accomplices were found guilty of the lesser charge of collaborating in and abetting the trafficking of persons in violation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.
Suriya Yodrak was jailed for one year while Warachai Chadathong was given a six-month sentence.
Plaintiff lawyer Kritsada Sanyadee said Sunon was the only one of the three defendants charged with human trafficking because the other two did not have the phone numbers of other members of the people-smuggling network and did not know exactly where they were taking the Rohingya people.
Kritsada added that although the three offenders had also been accused of trans-national human trafficking, the court dismissed |the allegation due to a lack of evidence.
He said the three defendants would appeal to the Appeal Court and were currently seeking bail for temporary release.
The three were captured in Nakorn Si Thammarat’s Hua Sai district in January while transporting Rohingya people from Ranong to Songkhla.
Police, who had been tipped off about the operation, intercepted five cars and arrested the three suspects. Another three drivers escaped.
Officers found 98 Rohingya in the cars, including 42 children under the age of 15.
The victims, who were all from Myanmar, were extremely exhausted and some had died from suffocation.
Kritsada said most of the surviving victims had been taken to the Sri Surat Protection and Occupational Development Centre in Surat Thani and a few were transferred out of the country.
Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand president Maung Kyaw Nu said the human trafficking of Rohingya people was still a major problem.
Although fewer are now being transported by sea, there are new inland trafficking routes opening up through central Myanmar and across the Thai border.