Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thailand seizes assets of officials suspected of human trafficking

Internally displaced Rohingya boys shiver in the rain in a makeshift camp for Rohingya people in Sittwe, Myanmar. (File, AP)

Bangkok - Thai authorities seized over $1.5m in assets from officials charged with human trafficking, the government said on Tuesday.

The assets included homes, boats, cars and land belonging to officials charged in absentia with trafficking, the government's public relations department said.

One of the missing suspects had turned himself in, it said. The army captain was wanted on charges of trafficking Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to Malaysia using Thailand as a transit point.

More than 150 warrants have been issued against officials suspected of involvement with the trafficking ring to date, with 89 detained including a general.

The trafficking network came to light earlier this year after investigators discovered mass graves of refugees at a trafficking camp in southern Thailand.

The ensuing outcry and crackdown stranded thousands of migrants in boats off Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, as traffickers refused to land.

The Rohingya Muslims say they suffer discrimination in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, which does not recognise them as one of the country's official ethnic groups, and considers them illegal Bengali immigrants. 

In August, the Anti-Money Laundering Office seized saving bonds, land deeds and cash totalling $1.1m from the same smuggling ring.