Rohingya trade probe ends

01 October 2015
Rohingya trade probe ends
Royal Malaysia Policemen in plain clothes, carry a bag of human remains at Wang Kelian, Perlis, Malaysia, 07 June 2015. Photo: EPA

Police have wrapped up their five-month investigation into Rohingya migrant trafficking with warrants issued for the arrest of 232 suspects involved in the human trade and money laundering.
But Deputy Provincial Police Region 8 commander, Pol Maj Gen Pawin Phongsirin, said Tuesday the problem is not completely eradicated yet, as a number of suspects are still at large and need to be brought to justice.
Pol Maj Gen Pawin will tidy up outstanding matters after taking over the case file from deputy national police chief Pol Gen Ake Angsananont, who was transferred last week to the post of permanent secretary to the Prime Minister's Office.
Pol Gen Ake has led the probe into trafficking networks since the graves of more than 30 Rohingya migrants were discovered in Songkhla's Sadao district on May 1 this year. 
So far, only 91 of 153 suspects tied to Rohingya trafficking have been detained, while 40 of 79 suspects allegedly implicated in money laundering have been taken into state custody, Pol Maj Gen Pawin said.
Authorities need to look further into money laundering as some trafficking suspects are also implicated in financial wrongdoing, he said, adding that assets worth more than one billion baht have been seized from the suspects over the past five months.
Details of financial wrongdoing by suspects in the two cases, compiled in 699 folders, will be today forwarded to Na Thawi prosecutors in Songkhla for further action, he said.
Earlier this year 32 graves, believed to belong to Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants, were found in Padang Besar in Sadao district of Songkhla which borders Malaysia.
The relatives of two Rohingya migrants had filed a complaint with police, saying the pair were detained at a remote jungle camp in the area.
One of the two migrants were reportedly killed while the other managed to escape.
Many Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants -- a Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar -- have left hardship in their countries and travelled by boat across the Andaman Sea for Malaysia and Indonesia. They pass through southern Thailand en route to third countries.
The discovery of the graves prompted the government to crack down on gangs trafficking Rohingya migrants through Thailand, implicating many state authorities.
Key suspects include BanchongPongphon, or Ko Chong, the mayor of Padang Besar and PatchubanAngchotphan, or Ko Tong, the ex-head of Satun provincial administration.
Many army officers also allegedly played a role, including ex-senior army adviser Lt Gen Manas Kongpan, three army officers attached to the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) based in the South, and one navy officer.
All of them are being detained and questioned by police.
Suspect Capt Wisut Bunnag, of Isoc in Chumphon, turned himself in to police on Monday.
Police said he told them a soldier close to Lt Gen Manas threatened him. 
The soldier was accused of sending him a message through the Line app, ordering him not to surrender.
Also Tuesday, police found three exhausted Rohingya men in a roadside forest in Chumphon's Tha Sae district.
The three claimed they were taken to Ranong province by brokers from Myanmar and Thailand and were told to wait in the district for further travel to Malaysia, according to officers.