PHUKET TOWN: Phuket residents in possession of unregistered firearms or explosives have until December 15 to turn them in without risk of prosecution. The amnesty, which actually went into effect two weeks ago, on October 17, was announced today by Phuket Provincial Chief Administrative Assistant Visasva Sasismit through a press release. It is not clear whether the amnesty is an extension of one announced by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on October 5, which he said would last 30 days only. Nor is it clear why local authorities delayed announcing the amnesty until two weeks after it began. The release said that the amnesty was part of the Government’s on-going campaign against “influential people” Following the announcement of that campaign – and before the amnesty came into effect – caches of arms and explosives have been turning up all over the country, sometimes endangering people living in areas where they were dumped. Those wishing to take advantage of the amnesty may turn in their weapons at any of Phuket’s three district offices (Muang, Kathu and Thalang) between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm on government working days, until the December 15 deadline. Those with large arsenals of weapons, especially explosives, are encouraged to notify the district registrar, so that he can dispatch a team to collect the weapons, rather than having them delivered to the district office. Individuals who turn in arms during the amnesty will not be prosecuted, nor will information related to the surrender of weapons be used in investigations or pending legal cases, even those cases lodged before October 17. K. Visasva said that there will be no cash compensation for the weapons, which would become the property of the government. It is two years since the Cabinet approved a draft bill banning guns in various parts of Thailand, including Phuket. Under the bill, anyone carrying a gun in these gun-free zones – even if they had a license – would be liable to a jail sentence of up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to 200,000 baht. The last illegal firearms amnesty in Phuket, declared in July last year, was a failure. Not one gun was handed in.
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