Thai general suspended for trafficking role
Thai authorities have suspended top human trafficking suspect Lt-General Manas Khongpaen from military service and seized four million baht and other assets from him.
Manas, a former special adviser to the Thai army, was arrested on June 3 amid a crackdown on the human traffickers in Thailand after discovery of 34 skeletons -- believed to be of Myanmar's Rohingyas and Bangladeshi people -- from mass graves in the southern region of Thailand.
Army commander General Udomdej Sitabutr said yesterday that Lt Gen Manas would be reinstated and paid retroactively if found not guilty of the various crimes with which he has been charged, reports Thai newspaper, The Nation.
Apart from 4 million baths, other properties of Manas included land, boats and a hotel, said Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) Secretary-General Pol Col Sihanart Prayoonrat yesterday, according to Bangkok Post.
In total, the Amlo has so far seized 258 items worth 109 million baht, all believed to have been acquired through human trafficking deals, he said.
Between 20 and 30 million baht has been found to have been transferred to and from
Lt Gen Manas's bank accounts. However, it is unclear how much of this money was generated through human trafficking deals and whether other officials had been involved in it, he said.
"If there is sufficient evidence to prove that the transferred money was generated from human trafficking, the Amlo will ask the committee handling financial transactions to freeze the accounts. It is too soon now to conclude that the money sent to recipients was from illegal activity," Sihanart said.
Regarding the seizure of 4 million baht from Lt Gen Manas' account, a source said the Amlo found that the money was transferred by migrant-trafficking suspects. They had no other sources of income except from fishing boats and people-smuggling, the source added.
The Nation, meanwhile, reported that public prosecutors dealing with the Rohingya trafficking case will be ready to indict all 53 suspects in custody by June 25.
This deadline is based on the scheduled completion of police investigations of the case by June 19, Deputy Attorney General Somnuek Siangkong said.
In addition to the 83 people wanted in the case, 53 of whom are already in custody, five additional suspects will be facing arrest, police said.
Three of the additional suspects are Thai nationals based in Songkhla's Sadao district, while one is a Myanmar national and the other a Rohingya.