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Satun politician held, Rohingya trafficking boss hunted

Rescue crews continue to discover graves and remains of Rohingya who have either been killed or died at the human trafficking camps, mostly in Songkhla. (Bangkok Post file photo)

By Wichayant Boonchote & Assawin Pakkawan
May 11, 2015

A local politician in Satun, who is a key suspect in the Rohingya trafficking case in the South, has been arrested while the "big boss" of the trafficking ring is still being hunted down, police say.

Arbu Ha-ura, Satun provincial administrative councillor, was arrested in Khuan Don district, deputy national police chief Ake Angsananont told the media Sunday.

Mr Arbu, who was denied bail, is among 49 people for whom arrest warrants have been granted for their links to Rohingya trafficking networks, said Pol Gen Ake, who oversees the investigation team in Songkhla and nearby provinces. 

Of the 49 suspects, 15 have been detained, he said.

As for the two police officials among the 49 suspects, they were dismissed from their jobs pending an investigation into their alleged involvement in the trafficking of Rohingya, he said.

Police are investigating whether the "big boss" behind the network in Satun, who has been identified as "Sia T", has fled abroad.

Thai Muslim villagers pray behind coffins containing the remains of Rohingya during a funeral at a graveyard in Songkhla . REUTERS

However, police have yet to seek an arrest warrant for him, Pol Maj Gen Ake said.

Meanwhile, the number of undocumented Rohingya found in, and helped out of jungles along the Khao Kaew range in Sadao, Hat Yai and Rattaphum districts of Songkhla has reached 240 as of Sunday.

The Rohingya are believed to have been abandoned by their traffickers, who fled out of fear of the government-ordered crackdown by security authorities.

Four migrants have been detained after fellow Rohingya identified them as assistants of the traffickers, said police sources.

In Phatthalung, Thosapol Sawasdisuk, chief of the Tamot district office, sent a letter to district police, municipality, kamnan and village heads asking them to survey areas suspected to be secret shelters or detention camps used by human traffickers. The government wants all such sites pinpointed. The authorities are requested to report back to the district chief by Friday, said one source.

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