Chalerm prepared to visit Myanmar to seek Karen rebel leader’s extradition


BANGKOK, May 8 – Thai Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung said today that he is prepared to travel to Myanmar to seek the extradition of an ethnic Karen rebel leader, Na Kham Mwe, listed by Thailand as one of the 25 most-wanted suspected drug dealers, if talks between Thai narcotics officials and Myanmar authorities fail.

Mr Chalerm disclosed that Pol Gen Adul Sangsingkeo, secretary-general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, had submitted a letter to Myanmar’s police chief, asking for cooperation in arresting arrest and extraditing Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) Commander-in-Chief Gen Saw Ler Pwe, also known as Na Kham Mwe, to Thailand.

The deputy premier said if the request fails, he will travel to the neighbouring country to discuss with Myanmar authorities himself.

“Without prompt and serious action, [Thailand’s] effort to eradicate the drug problem will never be successful,” Mr Chalerm said.

The process to bring Gen Saw Ler Pwe to face drug charges in Thailand does not need coordination via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the suspected drug dealer was under an outstanding arrest warrant issued in 2003 by the Thai criminal court, he explained.

Meanwhile, Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the foreign ministry has so far not yet submitted the letter requesting the arrest and extradition of the ethnic rebel leader to the Myanmar authorities, clarifying that the ethnic leader was not on Thailand’s blacklist.

Mr Surapong, however, said that the ministry can conduct the relevant process if requested and it is coordinated by Deputy Premier Chalerm.

Regarding the border situation, the minister said that Myanmar and Thai nationals still commute across the border in Thailand’s Tak province at Mae Sot district.

Maj-Gen Na Kham Mwe recently threatened to bar Thai nationals and traders from entering his areas on the Thai-Myanmar border, saying their safety could not be guaranteed, after he was listed by the Thai Narcotics Control Board as one of its 25 most-wanted drug trafficking suspects.