Thai embassy in Myanmar leads families to visit first group of 12 Thais

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BANGKOK, Aug 9 – Officials of the Thai embassy in Myanmar led families to visit the first group of 12 Thais, out of 92, detained in the country, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Department Director-General Thani Thongpakdee said.

He said the visiting team was accompanied by the Township Border Committee (TBC) chairman from the southern province of Ranong. The visit went well, while all detainees were mentally strong and have been treated well by the prison’s officers.

According to the Mr Thani, the Thai embassy in Myanmar had reported that the Myanmar court on Wednesday investigated more suspects on illicit drugs charges while the suspects were allowed to be present at the court for the hearing.

The inquisition was made among Myanmar witnesses, but so far the case has not yet been ruled by the court. The court has not informed when the ruling will be made.

The 92 Thai villagers, 82 men and 10 women, were detained for encroaching onto Myanmar territory on July 4. The suspects maintained they were lured by a broker to clear the land for rubber plantation which they later learned was beyond the areas authorised by the Myanmar officials for Thais to use.

The court in Kawthaung province adjacent to Ranong sentenced the Thais to three years and six months for deforestation and illegal entry, the first two of five counts for which all were charged.

Last week, Myanmar’s Township Border Committee (TBC) at Kawthaung province informed its Thai counterpart in Ranong that nine of the 92 detainees confessed to charges of illegal possession of military weapons. They will receive an additional jail term on top of the three and a half years prison.

The punishment did not include the other one count under investigation by the Myanmar authorities, which was obstruction of official duties.