Thursday, July 26, 2012

92 Thai trespassers given 3-1/2-year sentence

Thursday, 26 July 2012 14:09 Mizzima News

Burma has sentenced 92 Thais to three-and-a-half years in for prison terms for illegal entry and encroachment on forestland without permission.

The verdict involved 82 Thai men and 10 Thai women who arrested on July 4 in Burma.

Burmese President Thein Sein and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra during her visit to Thailand in December 2011. Photo: Burmese government

A further 10 Thai suspects were brought to a Burmese court on Tuesday and could face charges of growing narcotic plants (marijuana and kratom) and possessing war weapons, said an article in The Nation on Thursday.

The commander of the 25th Infantry Regiment Task Force, Col. Pornsak Pulsawat, speaking as head of the local Thai Border Committee, said Thai authorities would appeal for lighter punishments because it was the defendants' first offence.

Pornsak said the appeal would be submitted to the government in Naypyitaw, because of a previous offer made by Burmese President Thein Sein to PM Yingluck Shinawatra to offer assistance in the case. The offer came as Thein Sein visited Thailand last week.

The newspaper said that an unconfirmed local report claimed that Burma would release the 10 Thai female prisoners on August 12 before releasing the male prisoners gradually.

Meanwhile, Ban Khao Mile Prison on Koh Song, where the 92 Thais are held, is an old building with a tin roof surrounded by a barbed wire fence, a 10-metrewide ditch and several military guard posts, said a former Thai inmate.

Former Thai detainee Atcha Pratheeppichai, 44, who was serving a 14-year sentence in Ban Khao Mile Prison for encroaching into Burmese waters on a fishing trip, recalled it was a hellish experience, said the newspaper.

He described how the earth floor and tin roof jail was infested by mosquitoes, cockroaches and rats, and smells from the pit toilets. He said the best meal inmates could expect was boiled rice with salt and soybean soup.

Atcha said he heard that many Thais died in the prison each year. Thai government appeals in such cases are usually unsuccessful as most Thai defendants were sentenced quickly, he said.

Atcha and seven of his crewmembers were lucky, he said, receiving pardons on December 7, 2011, after serving two years.

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