Col Pornsak Poonsawat, Thailand’s Township Border Committee (TBC) chairman, said that the Myanmar court at Kawthaung sitting on Monday and Tuesday tried the Thai nationals apprehended on July 4 on the first two counts — deforestation and illegal entry — and sentenced each to 3 and 1/2 years in jail.
The 25th Infantry Regiment task force commander said the punishment did not include other three counts under investigation by Myanmar authorities; growing illicit drugs including cannabis and kratom; possession of firearms and military weapons and obstruction of official duties.
Col Pornsak said that Thailand still hopes to receive cooperation and help from the Myanmar government.
He added that there was no time frame for how long the legal proceedings would take for investigation and trial on the other counts.
The 92 Thai villagers, 82 men and 10 women, were detained for encroaching onto Myanmar territory, while the suspects maintain they were lured by a broker to clear the land which they later learned was beyond the areas authorised by the Myanmar officials for Thais to use as cultivation areas.
They were being detained in Myanmar’s Kawthaung province, opposite Thailand’s border province of Ranong.
Myanmar President Thein Sein who visited Thailand earlier this week told Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra during their meeting that he would consider reduced punishment for the detainees, but that it must be done through legal procedures first as some possessed firearms and were involved with illicit drugs.
Report by : MCOT