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More than 3,000 teak logs seized in sting operation

Posted by arnon_k On December - 16 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

DSI accuses company of using false papers

CHIANG MAI: Authorities have confiscated more than 3,000 teak logs estimated to be worth more than 200 million baht and believed to have been smuggled into Thailand from Burma.

A joint operation between the Department of Special Investigation, Customs Department and Royal Forestry Department raided two sawmills owned by Suksawat Group Co yesterday and seized the logs.

The operation was carried out following a complaint from Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga that a company had imported teak wood illegally from Burma through Mae Hong Son.

DSI deputy chief Narat Savetnant alleged Anton Co had falsely declared the confiscated logs to the Customs Office in Mae Hong Son as sawn timber using 57 documents that claimed the imports had been approved by Burmese officials.

The import documents were later found to be counterfeit, Mr Narat said.

The crackdown has raised questions over whether local officials responsible for approving the import of the confiscated wood were aware of the company’s activities.

No charges have been made against officials but they will face an inquiry to determine if they had anything to do with the illegal wood imports and whether they should take responsibility, Mr Narat said.

The DSI unit which investigates special criminal cases in the North has been looking into the case since February. It had learned by September that Anton Co had imported sawn teak from Burma under suspicious circumstances.

The company owner was charged by the DSI with violating regulations on the import of sawn timber.

Anton Co said last month it was considering suing the Forestry Department for refusing to renew its licence to transport teak logs from Burma through Salawin National Park in Mae Hong Son.

Phichet Lertlum-umphaiwong, the company’s deputy managing director, said its permission to transport teak expired a month ago and the department had refused to renew it, even though it had previously been renewed on a yearly basis.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti claimed at the time that the company did not have an export licence from Burma and no source-of-origin documents to prove where the logs came from. Anton Co insisted legal documents were issued by Myanmar Timber Enterprise, the government-owned corporation and sole extractor of timber in Burma.

Tharit contests killings report

Posted by arnon_k On December - 14 - 2010 1 COMMENT

Information submitted by red shirt leaders to the Japanese embassy to back their claim that government forces killed a Japanese cameraman and other participants in the April and May protests does not match the findings of the Department of Special Investigation, DSI chief Tharit Pengdit says.

“I can confirm that the details from the alleged leak [said to be from the police] and our own information are not the same,” Mr Tharit said yesterday.

He said the investigations into the deaths were continuing and the DSI had yet to reach any conclusions. Legal procedures aimed at uncovering the truth should be allowed to take their course.

Puea Thai Party list MP and United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship leader Jatuporn Prompan claimed to have received a leaked secret DSI report which indicated that troops were probably responsible for the deaths of 13 of the 90 people killed in Bangkok during the red shirt rallies.

Among the 13 were Japanese cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto of the Reuters news agency who was shot on April 10 at Khok Wua intersection and three people found dead after May 19 at Wat Pathum Wanaram.

Reuters also revealed on Friday that it had seen a leaked report from the DSI into the clashes between the red shirts and government forces which raised new questions about the fate of those found dead inside the temple.

Mr Tharit said the DSI was duty-bound to determine the truth about the riots in April and May which involved acts of terrorism and the use of weapons to attack civilians and members of the government forces.

He said police had forwarded the results of their findings into the deaths, including the three deaths at the temple and that of the cameraman, to the DSI.

But the DSI had found the investigation into the deaths by police was incomplete and additional evidence was required so the DSI sent the cases back for further investigation.

Mr Tharit said the cases would be sent back to the DSI and there would be no need to submit them to the court if police found that government forces were not involved in the deaths.

But if the inquiries found the deaths were caused by state forces, the cases would be sent to court.

Mr Tharit said it was not Mr Jatuporn’s business to hand over any evidence and information related to the death of the Japanese cameraman to the Japanese embassy.

Meanwhile, new red shirt leader Thida Thavornseth met yesterday with the state-appointed Truth for Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to seek help for detained red shirt leaders and supporters and to give it advice on how to better reach out to the group.

DSI: UDD’s reports not from DSI

Posted by arnon_k On December - 13 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) said information about those killed during the political violence in April and May distributed to the media by red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan does not match with DSI’s own reports, DSI chief Tharit Pengdit said Monday.

Mr Tharit’s statement came after Mr Jatuporn – a Puea Thai Party list MP and United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) core member – claimed last week he had received copies of DSI investigation reports from police officers who are red-shirt supporters.

Mr Jatuporn claimed the documents revealed that soldiers had a hand in the killing of protesters at Wat Pathumwanaram at Ratchaprasong intersection and other individuals killed during the violence, including a Japanese photo-journalist killed near Khok Woa intersection on April 10.

However, Mr Tharit said he had examined the document produced by Mr Jatuporn and the document does not match the documents at the DSI.

The DSI chief also said that his department has spoken with representatives of the Japanese embassy at least five times to report on the DSI’s findings on the death of the Japanese journalist. He said the embassy had been satisfied with DSI’s information.

Mr Tharit, however, said it is not possible to reveal the DSI’s reports to the public yet, because they contain some confidential information and there is no verdict on the case.

A number of red-shirts gathered in front of the Japanese embassy this morning to demand justice from the government for the 91 people, including Japanese photo-journalist Hiroyuki Muramoto, who died in the violence during the April-May protests.

The red-shirts, led by Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, leader of the June 24 Democracy Group, first met at the statue of King Rama VI at Lumpini Park before moving to the Japanese embassy.

They raised aloft pictures of the Japanese photographer, employed by Reuters, while marching to the embassy.

Muramoto was killed in the clash between government and red-shirts at Khok Woa intersection on April 10. It had not been clearly established who was responsible for his death.

The red-shirts said they wanted to give the embassy evidence of who shot Muramoto.

Red paper pigeons were distributed by the protesters. The activity was closely watched by police.

DSI claims Jatuporn’s photos show nothing new

Posted by arnon_k On December - 9 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

The Department of Special Investigation has conceded that some documents released to the public by the Puea Thai Party concerning the deaths of red shirt protesters are in its files.

But it declined to verify whether all the information released by Puea Thai Party list MP Jatuporn Prompan was accurate.

Mr Jatuporn, a co-leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, distributed to the media on Tuesday reports and photographs of protesters and other individuals killed during the political violence in April and May. He claimed the photographs were new and showed military officers had a hand in the killing of protesters at Wat Pathum Wanaram near Ratchaprasong intersection.

Mr Jatuporn claimed he had received copies of 10 DSI investigation reports from police officers who are red shirt supporters. He distributed four reports among the media.

They are reports on the deaths of red shirt supporters at Wat Pathum Wanaram on May 19, the death of a Japanese journalist near Khok Wua intersection on April 10, the death of a Dusit Zoo officer on April 10 and the death of Pvt Narongwit Sala in Don Muang district on April28.

Mr Jatuporn said justice for the red shirts had been delayed because police were reluctant to process the cases after receiving DSI investigation reports.

In some reports, military officers admitted they fired weapons.

DSI chief Tharit Pengdit said he could not given an assurance that all the information unveiled by Mr Jatuporn was true. He admitted, however, that the photographs shown by Mr Jatuporn were part of the DSI’s investigation.

He said his department had submitted its investigation report to the police for further action.

He said the DSI had never unveiled any part of the report to the public. If any information was leaked, it could not have come from the DSI.

The DSI could not intervene in the way the police handled confidential documents, Mr Tharit said.

The DSI chief said the military might be upset by certain parts of the DSI’s report, but it was the department’s duty to report the truth.

Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd, spokesman for Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation, which was responsible for the May 19 dispersal of the protesters, said the pictures released by Mr Jatuporn were not new. But the latest pictures were taken in different positions from photographs released earlier.

“I don’t see any pictures that show military officers shooting protesters. They just show officers holding rifles, which is normal in such operations,” he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has told police and the DSI to review the legal process against suspects arrested during the protest dispersal who claimed to be innocent or who were accused of minor offences.