Rohingya trafficker sentenced to 15 years in jail

A local businessman faces 15 years in prison for trafficking nearly a hundred Rohingya migrants in 2015, two of whom suffocated to death during their journey. 
 
On 12 September 2017, the Appeal Court confirmed the Court of First Instance’s decision to jail Sunan Saengthong, a local businessman in Phang Nga, for 15 years and to fine him 660,000 baht. Sunan was convicted of false confinement, enslavement and human trafficking.
 
The case began on 11 January 2015 when police officers in Nakhon Si Thammarat found five pickup trucks transporting 98 Rohingya from Ranong to Songkhla Province. 30 were male, 26 female and 42 were children aged below 15. They were found stuffed in the back of the trucks. 
 
One individual had suffocated to death during the journey, while another individual died later. 
 
The police arrested two drivers while the others escaped. The court ruled the two guilty of breaching the Immigration Act but dismissed charges of human trafficking, reasoning that there was no evidence of involvement in the trafficking network. The drivers were sentenced to one year in prison and a 20,000 baht fine.
 
An investigation into the trafficking case ultimately revealed the involvement of several senior military officers, government officials and police officers. One convicted officer was army adviser Lt Gen Manas Kongpan, who had at one time been assigned a senior Internal Security Operations Command role in the suppression of trafficking. He was sentenced to 27 years in jail for trafficking, taking bribes and transnational crimes.
 
 
Officers visit Rohingya rescued from the human trafficking network (Photo from Benar News)