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Security increased for Rohingya trafficking witnesses

National police chief Somyot Pumpunmuang (right) visits a Rohingya migrant who survived and was rescued from a human-trafficking camp at a hospital in Songkhla province on Monday. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

By Nucharee Rakrun
May 5, 2015

Police have increased protection for two Rohingya migrants who felt threatened after becoming key witnesses in a murder case tied to Friday’s discovery of a mass graveyard at a human-trafficker camp in Songkhla.

Pol Col Anuchon Chamart, deputy chief of Nakhon Si Thammarat police, ordered the increased security out of fear that those behind the trafficking network might have them killed.

One of the witnesses earlier exposed the killing of a migrant at a Nakhon Si Thammarat detention camp. The unidentified man told police he saw a Rohingya man named Kasim killed by well-known Rohingya trafficking broker Arnua. Arnua allegedly used a heavy stick to beat Kasim to death. Kasim was a nephew of the other witness, identified only as Kuramia.

Arnua allegedly abducted Kasim and demanded a 95,000-baht ransom, but Kasim was not freed once the money was sent.

Arnua then demanded another 120,000 baht, prompting Kuramia to go to the police, which allegedly motivated Arnua to kill the nephew.

Police arrested Arnua in Muang district last Wednesday and charged him with fraud and kidnapping.

Kuramia had feared his nephew was killed and buried in tambon Padang Besar in Songkhla's Sadao district, which led to the police's discovery of many detention camps, graves and bodies of Rohingya migrants on Khao Kaew mountain near the Thai-Malaysian border last Friday.

Police said they suspected Arnua, now being held at Nakhon Si Thammarat Central Prison, might be a caretaker of the detention camps in Sadao district. Authorities were likely to press additional charges against him.

Provincial Police Region 9 has sent a team of police investigators to interrogate the two witnesses and gather evidence to implicate those who had colluded with Arnua in the kidnapping case.

A police investigation found there was a link between the arrest of Rohingya people in Nakhon Si Thammarat's Hua Sai district three months ago and the discovery of the graves on Khao Kaew mountain.

On Jan 11, 98 Rohingya migrants, believed to have been smuggled into the country by a human-trafficking ring, were arrested at a checkpoint in Hua Sai district. They were heading for Songkhla when a convoy of vehicles was spotted.

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