Passport theft prompts Thai rethink on new passport database


BANGKOK, March 10 – Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has called her Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak to express condolences over the missing Malaysian flight.

Thailand is also prepared to make passport database changes to prevent the use of fake or stolen passports.

Caretaker Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul made the remarks following reports that two passengers of MH370 flight used the passports stolen in Thailand. Electronic booking records also showed that one-way tickets were issued from a travel agency in the beach resort of Pattaya.

Earlier Italian and Austrian foreign ministries announced that the names of their two citizens matched with the flight’s manifest but the two – Austrian Christian Kozel and the other Luigi Maraldi of Italy – did not board the flight and their passports were stolen and that the details have been entered into Interpol’s database.

The Italian national, who is now in the resort island of Phuket, met with Thai police yesterday. He said that his passport was stolen when he left it as a deposit guarantee at a motorcycle rental company. Mr Maraldi said he has never been to Malaysia, and said that he filed a complaint with Thai police last July and went back to Italy with a temporary passport.

Mr Maraldi returned to Thailand early this month and is scheduled to leave the kingdom on March 15 but he pledged to cooperate with the Thai authorities for further investigation.

Region 8 Police Commissioner Pol Lt Gen Panya Mamen said he has formed a special committee to probe the issue.

Mr Surapong said he will ask the government to make an Interpol-linked passport database allowing police worldwide as well as airlines to verify the information and intercept those holding stolen or counterfeit passports.

Thailand is willing to assist Malaysia, he told the Malaysian foreign minister, but possible terrorism was not raised during the discussion.

National Security Council secretary-general Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanatabut said that more investigation will be conducted as it tarnished the country’s image.