Legal action seen against defecting insurgents

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BANGKOK, Sept 13 – Legal action will be taken against insurgents who have committed crimes before surrendering to the 4th Army Region commander early this week, said an Internal Security Operations Commands (ISOC) spokesman on Thursday.

Maj-Gen Ditthaporn Sasasamit made the statement after nearly one hundred self-identified insurgents met with 4th Army Region Commander Lt-Gen Udomchai Thamsarorach in Narathiwat province Tuesday to express their intention to stop fighting with the authorities in the southernmost provinces.

Gen Ditthaporn said the insurgents will not be free from being charged as their surrender was not in accordance with the Internal Security Act (ISA), Article 21, which permits insurgents to renounce separatist activities in exchange for amnesty.

The spokesman explained that the province where the insurgents met with the commander has been under a curfew and a state of emergency, not the ISA.

The insurgents will be prosecuted under the law according to their offences, said the ISOC spokesman.

Gen Ditthaporn also denied claims that the meeting was a setup, reaffirming that all alleged insurgents who turned themselves in on Tuesday were under outstanding arrest warrants and each of them knows well the possible punishment they will serve once prosecuted.

The general noted that initially, the arrest warrants against the insurgents may be revoked but legal action will nonetheless proceed.

Following concern regarding the public disclosure of the insurgents, the ISOC spokesman said Gen Udomchai had ensured their safety for them, adding that their decision to meet with authorities is a good sign which could also happen in nearby Pattani, Yala and Songkhla provinces.

The group, calling themselves Badan Penyeelarasan Wawasan Baru Melayu Patani, on Tuesday handed Gen Udomchai a letter declaring they have formally quit the insurgency.

Among them was Waeali Copter Waji, alias Jeh Ali, a key suspect in connection with the assault and arms robbery at the 4th Development Battalion in Cho Ai-rong district in Narathiwat which claimed four soldiers’ lives on January 4, 2004.