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Man charged with trafficking Rohingya refugees may face rape charges



Man charged with trafficking Rohingya refugees may face rape charges | Thaiger

PHUKET: One of five Rohingya who escaped the Phang Nga Shelter for Children and Family is waiting for doctors to confirm her claims of being raped, for three consecutive nights, by the human trafficker that had promised to get her and her two daughters safely to Malaysia.

The alleged rapist, Koreemura Ramahatu, 26, is only facing human trafficking charges so far, confirmed Phang Nga Provincial Police Commander Chalit Kaewyarat to the Phuket Gazette on Thursday.

“Police may press rape charges against Mr Koreemura when they have the test result and more information about the case,” he said.

The 25-year-old woman, given the pseudonym “Mrs A” by police, fled the shelter with five other women on May 27 with a Rohingya man who had visited the shelter two days earlier, an officer of Phang Nga Shelter for Children and Family said.

“Two of the women had already left when the man picked up the other three by motorbike and transferred them to another vehicle, which was seen by our staff,” said the officer. “We immediately informed the authorities, but they were unable to find the women.”

The trail went cold until May 30 when a committee member of the Phang Nga Islamic Council was contacted by a man in Malaysia asking for help.

“The man told the committee member that he was the husband of Mrs A and had promised to pay a total of 50,000 baht to have his wife and daughters smuggled out of Thailand,” said the shelter officer.

The man had paid 20,000 baht up front and was to pay an additional 30,000 baht once his wife and children were in Malaysia.

However, there were complications in the payment that led to a conflict between the human trafficker and the husband.

“The trafficker allegedly threatened to abuse the man’s wife and his two daughters, who are 9 and 12 years old,” said the officer.

Meanwhile, the group of five Rohingya had been split into two groups.

“Two of the woman who left were brought back to the shelter by the Khao Lak Police on June 17 after having been caught by the Surat Thani City Police. Mrs A and her children were found in Kuraburi by the Phang Nga Provincial Police and brought back the next day,” the officer explained.

Mrs A and her daughters were found beside a road in Kuraburi by Teerayut Fuengfoo of the Phang Nga Provincial Police.

“I was on duty when I saw them next to the road. There was a man with them. However, as I approached he fled into the woods,” Sen Sgt Maj Teerayut said. “At first I didn’t realize they were Rohingya, and I started talking to them in Thai to see if they needed help. It wasn’t until I noticed that they could not understand me that I realized they might be the runaway Rohingya.”

The man who escaped on foot into the woods, Mr Koreemura, was arrested and charged for human trafficking by the Kuraburi police on June 19.

“Mr Koreemura is currently being detained at Phang Nga Prison,” Maj Gen Chalit said.

— Irfarn Jamdukor


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