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Four arrested over death camp grave sites

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Four arrested over death camp grave sites | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Migrant graveyard arrests
The Nation / Phuket Gazette


PHUKET: The authorities have arrested four of eight suspects wanted in connection with an alleged extortion and murder camp in Thailand’s southern border province of Songkhla.

In custody are Asan Intanu, 48, Ro-aey Sonyalae, 41, Alee Lahmoh, 47 and Soe Naing Arnua (Anwar), 40.

Still on the run are Prasit Lemleh, deputy mayor of the Padang Besar Municipality; Yalee Krem, village head of Moo 8 Baan Taloh; Pakphon Benlateh; and Charoen Thongdaeng.

All eight have been charged with human trafficking, illegal detention and seeking ransom money.

Authorities made the arrests following 26 bodies being exhumed from a mass graveyard in a border zone in Songkhla’s Sadao district on Saturday .

At least one witness has said that the murders took place at a nearby border campsite where hundreds of migrants had been held.

It is believed that the bodies in the graveyard came from the camp.

The four arrested suspects have denied any role in illegal detention, extortion and human trafficking. Mr Asan has confessed to having a gun and ammunition in his possession illegally.

National Police Commissioner Somyot Poompanmoung said that police were urgently gathering evidence and would bring all the culprits to justice, even if they were government officials or politicians.

“If evidence suggests they might have been involved, we will arrest them,” Gen Somyot said.

Judging by the fact that some bodies had been added to the grave recently, while others had long been buried, it was possible that the camp had been operating for a long time, Gen Somyot said.

Provincial Police Region 8 Deputy Commissioner Somchai Nittayabavornkul said that local policemen had engaged in the trafficking of Rohingya.

“These policemen have been arrested and prosecuted. It’s just that their cases have not appeared in news reports,” he said before he attended a meeting with Deputy Defense Minister and Army Chief Udomdej Sitabutr on how to tackle and prevent the trafficking of Rohingya.

During the meeting in Ranong, Gen Udomdej said that officials involved in the trafficking of Rohingya people into Thailand would face decisive legal action.

He instructed relevant state agencies to prepare a list of suspects involved with traffickers who smuggled Rohingya and other “boat people” into Thailand.

Gen Udomdej, who is also deputy director of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), admitted that the trafficking network in Ranong was “not a small movement because they have been active for some time”.

Gen Somyot said that Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha had directly instructed him to work closely with Gen Udomdej to initiate a fast crackdown on human-trafficking gangs that had caused severe damage to Thailand’s reputation.

Ranong has been a key entry point for illegal migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, the head of the Satun Police will be suspended from duty in connection with the ongoing investigation into human traffickers, said Gen Somyot yesterday.

National police commissioner General Somyot Poompanmoung said that a team of investigators led by his Gen Aek Angsananont had suggested a transfer of Maj Gen Sunthorn Chalermkiat, who is chief of the Satun Police, to an inactive post at Royal Thai Police headquarters.

Gen Somyot said that this was because Maj Gen Sunthorn has close ties with a suspected leader of the trafficking ring.

Gen Somyot said that he would also transfer the five most senior officers at Padang Besar police station in Songkhla, including the superintendent, out of their current jurisdiction. Those transfers are in addition to seven more police transfers from Padang Besar of officers suspected of taking bribes from traffickers.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand to issue vaccine certificate to everyone who gets 2 doses of Covid jab

Maya Taylor

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Thailand to issue vaccine certificate to everyone who gets 2 doses of Covid jab | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Thailand’s Public Health Minister says everyone who receives both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine will be issued with a vaccine certificate. The vaccine certificate will be similar to the vaccination books already in circulation for some time and used to prove inoculation against yellow fever. According to a Coconuts report, both the paper and online version of the certificate will cost 50 baht and will be available from hospitals administering the vaccines.

While there is currently no standard vaccine passport, with most countries waiting for World Health Organisation guidance on the matter, it’s hoped Thailand’s vaccine certificate could help citizens with international travel plans. Anutin says recipients can use them for international travel and the certificates will have a validity of 1 year.

The government is also considering a reduction in mandatory quarantine for vaccinated foreigners entering the Kingdom. A proposal going before the government’s Covid-19 task force on Monday includes cutting quarantine to 7 days for vaccinated visitors or reducing it to 10 days for unvaccinated arrivals who have tested negative 72 hours prior to travel. It’s understood the 7 day quarantine would apply to travellers who have been vaccinated for at least 2 weeks, but no longer than 3 months.

The proposals come as vaccine rollouts continue around the world, although Anutin points out that travellers from South Africa will not be eligible for reduced quarantine, due to the highly-contagious variant detected there, which health officials fear may be more resistant to vaccines.

Meanwhile, the Health Minister has even hinted at quarantine being cancelled completely if Thailand manages to inoculate 70% of people with underlying conditions and those working in the health and tourism sectors by October. Vaccine registration is set to kick-off in May, with the full national rollout beginning in June, when additional doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are expected to arrive.

SOURCE: Coconuts

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Koh Samui

Blackout on Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan after navy ship anchor damages underwater cable

The Thaiger

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Blackout on Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan after navy ship anchor damages underwater cable | The Thaiger
Photo via Facebook/โฆษกกองทัพเรือ (Royal Thai Navy spokesperson)

A widespread blackout swept over Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan after a Thai navy ship anchor dropped on an underwater cable which supplies power to the islands in the Gulf of Thailand off the Surat Thani coast.

The 115kv cable runs from Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Khanom district to Koh Samui. The anchor damaged the cable about 2 kilometres out from the island, blacking out the tambons Bo Phut, Mae Nam and Maret, the Provincial Electricity Authority district manager Jakkrit Meedet told the Bangkok Post. The repair will take several days.

On the PEA Koh Samui Facebook page, the authority said electricity supply will be circulated for 1 hour per area and outage for 3 hours per area. Additional power generators are being sent to the island today. The authority is still supplying electricity to hospitals on the islands.

Apparently a similar incident happened back in 2018, Jakkrit says, and 6 mobile power-generating trucks were used to supply electricity to the island.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Facebook

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

AstraZeneca rollout confirmed for Thursday, with PM first in line

Maya Taylor

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AstraZeneca rollout confirmed for Thursday, with PM first in line | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr

First, there was the unexpected arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccine on the same day Thailand took delivery of the Chinese one. Then there was the announcement that PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was too old for China’s Sinovac jab and would get the AstraZeneca one instead. And then there was the delay to the PM’s inoculation, blamed on paperwork that was missing from the AstraZeneca shipment. Now, finally, the rollout of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca jab is scheduled for Thursday and the PM will be first in line.

The Bangkok Post reports that Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has confirmed that quality checks on the 117,000 AstraZeneca doses are nearly complete and the PM will be vaccinated this week.

“(The rollout of) AstraZeneca vaccines in Thailand will take place on March 11 at the earliest, with the PM to be the first to receive the vaccine.”

According to Anutin, a number of senior politicians, including the foreign affairs minister and the acting education minister, have requested the AstraZeneca jab. Those over the age of 60 are being prioritised, while younger people will receive the Chinese vaccine, whose efficacy and safety have not been tested in those over 60.

Meanwhile, the Health Minister adds that China has asked for Thailand’s help in inoculating 200,000 Chinese citizens living in the Kingdom. Beijing has also floated the idea of making Thailand a regional vaccination centre for Chinese people living in the ASEAN region and says it will provide the necessary vaccines for free.

Thailand’s Public Health Ministry has confirmed it will issue vaccination certificates to everyone who receives the required 2 doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. Apisamai Srirangson from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration says such certificates have been approved by the World Health Organisation and can be used in the future to obtain a vaccine passport.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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