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Rohingya trafficking suspect to be charged for abduction, rape

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: The man accused of repeatedly raping a Rohingya woman he was allegedly to smuggle from a welfare shelter in Phang Nga, north of Phuket, to Malaysia will face rape and abduction charges, police today confirmed to the Phuket Gazette.

“We were issued an arrest warrant today that will allow us to take him into custody and proceed with pressing deprivation of liberty and rape charges against him,” said Lt Saner Sumard of the Kuraburi Police.

Korlimula Mahamutu, as he is named in Thai on the arrest warrant, is currently being detained in Phang Nga Town as he is already facing charges of human trafficking (story here).

“Now that we have the warrant, we will co-ordinate when we can take him into custody,” Lt Saner said late this afternoon.

Phang Nga Provincial Police Commander Chalit Kaewyarat told the Gazette that his officers will continue their investigation into the reported rape ordeal and the human-trafficking allegations.

“Any persons we find involved in human trafficking will be prosecuted,” he said.

Following reports of a Thai man arriving at the Phang Nga shelter where Rohingya refugees are staying and threatening to kill the Rohingya woman and the shelter’s director, Maj Gen Chalit said he had no knowledge of any such incidents.

“If we had received any such reports, we certainly would investigate them and take action against any person who did such a wrongful act,” he said.

A high-ranking, trusted source at the shelter today told the Gazette that she had not heard of any threats against any staff or Rohingya at the refuge.

“I do not know how that news was spread. Nobody even asked me about it. I swear that no Thai man came here to threaten anybody,” she added.

However, the allegedly raped Rohingya woman and her two daughters will be transferred to another Department of Social Development and Welfare shelter.

“There, she will be protected and nobody can bother her about the rape,” the staffer said.

“The woman is sick and tired of people trying to approach her, talk to her and take photos of her,” she explained.

“At this stage I cannot reveal when and where she will be transferred. That depends on the police and if they still need her for questioning…

“But I do know she is tired of the case. She does not want to talk about it. I understand that, and I hope others understand that too,” she said.

The news today follows New York-based Human Rights Watch this morning issuing a statement calling for the Thai government to investigate the alleged rape ordeal and how human traffickers reportedly gained access to the Rohingya refugees.

“The rape… demonstrates the vulnerability of Rohingya women to human traffickers – even when they are living in government-run shelters where they should be protected,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“The government needs to swiftly and impartially investigate the rape case, and determine why traffickers were able to get access to Rohingya women in this shelter, and prosecute all those who aided the crime,” he said.

“It’s unacceptable that those involved in trafficking and abusing of Rohingya operate with impunity, while the victims are left with little or no protection from Thai authorities,” Adams said.

The HRW report today noted that more than 1,700 Rohingya have been in the custody of Thai authorities since January 2013.

“Under immense international pressure, the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra agreed in January 2013 to let these Rohingya stay in Thailand temporarily, until they can be safely repatriated to their places of origin or resettled in third countries,” said the report.

“Calling them ‘illegal immigrants’, Thai authorities have put Rohingya men in overcrowded immigration detention facilities across the country. Women and children have been sent to shelters operated by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. As a result, in a number of cases, families have been split up

“The government does not permit the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to properly conduct refugee status determination screening of these Rohingya,” it added.

“Each year, tens of thousands of Rohingya set sail to flee persecution by the Burmese government and dire poverty,” Mr Adams said.

“Their plight has worsened at the hands of traffickers and corrupt Thai officials. It is time for the United Nations and the international community to take action.”

— Chutharat Plerin

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Thailand

Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Airways

After nearly 9 months on the ground due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with problems balancing their accounts, Thai Airways will resume flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as Bangkok and Phuket later this month. The flights will start back up on Christmas day.

Flights from Bangkok to the 2 key tourist provinces have been grounded since April 1. Starting December 25, the airline will run 3 flights a week on both routes. A source told the Bangkok Post that the new schedules will run until at least February 28.

Thai Lion Air, Thai Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Smile, VietJet Air and Bangkok Airways have returned to the domestic skies since July and slowly adding frequency to their routes.

In addition to resuming the domestic flights, the Thai Airways is relaunching some international flights from January 1 to March 27 including weekly flights to Frankfurt, London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Seoul, Manila, Taipei and Osaka. Flights from Bangkok to Tokyo will be available 3 times a week and flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong will be available every day.

Thai Airways has been tackling bankruptcy throughout the lockdown and trying to make up for more than 300 billion baht in losses. Since many flights were suspended due to travel restrictions, Thai Airways has tried to make money by business ventures on the ground, like a pop-up restaurant serving in-flight meals and selling off unwanted equipment from their warehouse. There also disposing of much of their older fleet, including all of their Boring 747-400s.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments

Maya Taylor

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97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.newsbeezer.com

97 police officers, from 41 police stations, are currently being investigated for an alleged scam involving Covid-19 payments meant for officers who worked extra shifts during the crisis. The case was assigned by national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk in November, when it came to light that some officers may have fraudulently claimed allowances meant for others.

In one incident, an officer responsible for transferring extra payments to police on the southern island of Phuket transferred the money to his own accountant instead. At the time, the transfer was dismissed as a mistake (in his favour), with the officer in question receiving a warning, and payments then made to the qualifying officers.

Wissanu Prasatthong-Osot from the National Internal Affairs Police says the investigation should reach a conclusion within the next 10 days.

“The result of the investigation should be ready in 10 days. Currently, 97 officers in 41 police stations ranging from non-commissioned to generals are under investigation for being involved in the swindle. The bureau aims to provide justice to all policemen involved. After the investigation concludes, the victims will receive their full allowance, while the offending officers will be punished under the law and disciplinary standards.”

Nation Thailand reports that a full list of alleged offenders has been sent to Suwat, with Wissanu promising that none will escape prosecution.

“The National Police chief had also ordered the transfer of offending officers at the commander and sub-commander levels out of their areas as per the investigation procedures.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

A tourism route from Guangzhou, China to Phuket could help the island province recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic and lack of foreign travel, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The president of the organisation, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, says they plan to submit a letter proposing the route under a travel bubble scheme to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is proposing a travel bubble with around 20 cities in China with no recent coronavirus infections and considered to be at a low risk of spreading the virus. Travellers from Guangzhou recently entered Thailand on the new Special Tourist Visa. It was the second flight of international tourists since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

“We believe that the Travel Bubble and the quarantine reduction will resolve the tourism business, which is a huge economic opportunity to recover.”

Once a vaccine is widely available, Narongsak suggests that those who wish to Thailand could also present their vaccination certificate or examination reports from the place of origin. He adds that the mandatory state quarantine period is likely to be reduced.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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