Friday, July 20, 2012

Four-country task force focusing on Chinese sailors’ murder

Friday, 20 July 2012 14:14 Mizzima News

Chinese officials have sent teams to Laos, Thailand and Burma to coordinate efforts in the investigation of the killing of 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River in 2011.

China’s Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday that Lao police had arrived in China to interrogate Burmese drug lord Naw Kham who is accused in connection with the deaths, according to an article by the Chinese Xinhua news agency on Friday.

A Mekong River patrol  Photo: yulMD / flickr

A team headed by Sysavath Keomalavong, director general of the Lao General Police Department, traveled to China to talk to Naw Kham in a joint effort with Chinese counterparts to deal with the cross-border massacre.

A Burmese national, Naw Kham, was arrested in Laos on April 25 and is being held now by Chinese police in connection with the deaths.

The drug lord was extradited to China on May 10 for investigation and court trial.

Chinese police said a joint investigation in China, Laos, Burma and Thailand has found evidence that Naw Kham, members of his gang, and a small number of Thai soldiers planned and conducted the murders of 13 Chinese sailors on two cargo ships on Oct. 5, 2010.

The gang reportedly had more than 100 members and was armed with assault rifles, bazookas and machine guns. They are believed to have engaged in drug trafficking, kidnapping, murder, looting and other crimes along the Mekong River for many years. A small number of the gang reportedly turned themselves in with their weapons to Burmese authorities near Tachilek earlier this year.

According to the Chinese ministry, the gang is believed to be behind 28 robberies and gun-related crimes directed at Chinese vessels and citizens since 2008, resulting in 16 deaths and three injuries, Xinhua said.

Sysavath said Lao and Chinese police will conduct follow-up investigations and will try to eliminate other members of the gang in order to maintain safe shipping security along the Mekong River.

Under the framework of the “Law Enforcement Cooperation along the Mekong River Mechanism,” the four countries have created channels for intelligence exchanges, Mekong river patrols and general law enforcement, as well as for tackling incidents that disrupt public order, combat transnational crimes and deal with emergency events, said Xinhua.

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