Wanted Thai general turns himself in on human trafficking charges

2015-06-02 15:52
Jail bars. (File photo, AP)

Jail bars. (File photo, AP)

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Bangkok - A three-star Thai general accused of involvement in human trafficking turned himself in to authorities on Tuesday, the most high profile among scores of suspects wanted as part of a police crackdown on the illicit trade.

A total of 84 arrest warrants has been issued over human trafficking, a business that activists and the United States say Thailand has done little to stop. Police say 51 arrests have been made so far.

Lieutenant General Manus Kongpan said he was ready and willing to go to trial.

"I ask for justice. I'm ready to fully co-operate with officials in every way," he told reporters by telephone on Tuesday while en route to a police post at Pedang Besar, a town on the Thai-Malaysia border where trafficking has flourished.

"No matter what the court decides, I'm ready to accept it."

Police last week said there were no longer any human trafficking camps in southern Thailand, after a crackdown led to the grim discovery of scores of graves on both sides of the jungle-clad border.

About 4 000 migrants have landed in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh since Bangkok launched its crackdown last month as international pressure mounted on Bangkok to tackle the gangs.

Many victims are Rohingya Muslims who are reviled by Myanmar's Buddhist majority and live in abject poverty in the country's Rakhine state. Thousands have fled Myanmar on wooden boats and many have said they have been exploited and abused by criminal networks.

The United Nations estimates some 2 000 migrants may still be adrift in the wake of Thailand's May sweeps, after traffickers chose to abandon them rather than take them ashore and risk arrest.

Thailand's defence minister and former army chief Prawit Wongsuwan insisted Manus should be considered innocent until proven otherwise.

"He is still just a suspect," Prawit told reporters.

Read more on:    thailand

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