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The police today escorted a total of 88 suspects who included an army lieutenant general, to the Criminal Court this morning for criminal hearing under tight security.
The suspects were the first batch of over 100 suspects to face prosecution for their involvement in human trafficking of Rohingya migrants into the country for settlement in third countries from January 2011- May 2015.
The human trafficking had resulted in the death and injuries of many illegal migrants, according to the state prosecution in filing criminal charges against them in the court today.
Among the suspects who comprised state officials and civilians were Lt Gen Manas Kongpaen, a former army expert in charge of internal security, and a former influential tycoon Patchuban Angchotiphand, or well-known as “Ko Tong”.
The state prosecutors accused them of a conspiracy in deceiving and forcing Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants to leave Myanmar with promises to find jobs for them in Malaysia.
Some had agreed to leave while some were abducted and were taken to jungle detention camps, awaiting to be smuggled out in small boats to board larger ship to continue to Malaysia.
At the border detention camps, they were confined to poor conditioned living quarter with limited food and water, thus resulting in deaths and injuries of many migrants.
The court later set four days, beginning today until November 13 for criminal hearing if any of the suspects will plead guilty or deny the criminal charges before opening the first trial.
Chief police investigator Pol Maj Gen Paveen Pongsirin said the court had issued 153 warrants for the arrest of a total of over 100 suspects.
The suspects brought to court today is the first batch of suspects from a total of 91.
He said 88 suspects had been arrested with the remaining three arrested afterwards.
The three will be prosecuted later, he said.