Thai army general surrenders over migrants trafficking

Bangkok, June 3 (IANS) A Thai army general suspected of involvement in the trafficking of Rohingya migrants in southern Thailand surrendered to the police on Wednesday.

Lt.Gen. Manat Khongpaen, a former commander of the 42nd Army Circle based in Haat Yai city, was accused of being implicated in the trafficking of Rohingya migrants from Myanmar, who had been lured into a Thai border area with Malaysia last month, Xinhua news agency reported.

The police are yet to interrogate the general, who has already been suspended from service by army chief Gen. Udomdej Sitabutra, over the scandal in which he allegedly joined dozens of other suspects in the illegal trafficking of the Muslim migrants from Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

Lt.Gen. Manat has so far been the only Thai military officer among a total of 84 human trafficking suspects for whom arrest warrants were issued. The others included police officers and local politicians in southern Thailand.

A total of 64 Rohingyas were rescued from jungles along the Thai-Malaysian border areas while 249 others were arrested on illegal entry charges, according to deputy police chief Gen. Aek Ungsananont. All the illegal migrants are yet to be repatriated to Myanmar.

The remains of 36 deceased Rohingyas were found at a makeshift graveyard in Thailand’s Padang Besar area bordering Malaysia’s Perlis state, where the migrants might have been hired as labourers in rubber or palm plantations.

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