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Thursday, 17 April 2008

Assets of a gang accused of involvement in smuggling Myanmar workers to Thailand siezed

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) will cooperate with Thailand's police in adopting harsh punishment as well as seizing the assets of a gang accused of involvement in smuggling Myanmar workers to Thailand last week, causing 54 of them to die in a suffocation tragedy, a senior DSI officer said Monday.
Pol. Col. Suchart Wongananchai, commander of the DSI's foreign affairs and international crime office, said after visiting the southern coastal province of Ranong on the Myanmar border to follow-up developments in relation to the 54 Myanmar workers who died of suffocation in a seafood container truck last Thursday that Thailand's response to the incident was being closely watched by international human rights organisations.The workers secretly entered Ranong province and were travelling to Phuket province, locked in the storage compartment of a refrigerated seafood transfer vehicle. A Thai businessman was apprehended Friday in Ranong, but the truck's driver was still at large.As anti-human trafficking laws are not yet enforced in Thailand, Pol. Col. Suchart said the DSI had proposed that assets of those involved in this case should be confiscated.
He said a detailed investigation was conducted after the incident and it was found that an illegal smuggling gang would "earn not less than Bt100,000 per trip".Smuggling of foreign labour into the country should be considered as an economic crime and the freezing of assets should be imposed on the network, Pol. Col. Suchart said.He said 50 survivors from the tragedy would be asked to become witnesses in the criminal case and "not accused persons". Thailand's Ministry of Justice would be responsible for their expenses while staying in Thailand.The DSI is now compiling information on gangs which smuggle Myanmar workers into Thailand via border districts in Kanchanaburi and Tak provinces, he said. The illegal workers are usually sent to work in the fisheries in Samut Songkhram province, near Bangkok


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