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Thaksin extradition doubtful

Posted by arnon_k On December - 9 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

The government will find it very difficult to seek the extradition of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra from the US, the head of the DSI says.

Thaksin is a fugitive from justice after being found guilty by the Supreme Court of abusing his authority in the case of his former wife’s purchase of a block of land in Bangkok’s Ratchadaphisek area. He was sentenced in October 2008 to two years in jail.

This sentence would not carry enough weight to convince the US to extradite him, Department of Special Investigation director-general Tharit Pengdit said yesterday.

It is a normal case, not a terrorism case, Mr Tharit said.

Thaksin has been invited by the US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) to appear before it on Dec16 to discuss the human rights situation in Thailand.

The DSI sent an application to the Office of the Attorney-General four months ago asking that it set in train legal action against Thaksin and 19 others, including red shirt protest leaders Weng Tojirakarn, Natthawut Saikua and Veera Musikhapong, suspected of supporting terrorism.

All except Thaksin have been indicted for terrorism. He was not charged because any alleged wrongdoing would have been committed while he was overseas and not in Thailand. This would pose a problem in seeking his extradition.

Thaksin’s domestic legal adviser, Noppadol Pattama, said yesterday the government was trying hard to convince the US not to issue a visa for Thaksin.

He said the government was trying to prevent Thaksin from speaking about human rights violations in Thailand, especially any relating to the dispersal by government forces of red shirt demonstrators in April and May this year.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday refused to respond to Mr Noppadol’s claims.

Mr Noppadol showed a copy of a letter from the CSCE inviting Thaksin to speak at its meeting. He said the commission was expected to ask Thaksin about the government’s action against the red shirts and the unrest in the South.

Mr Noppadol said Thaksin had applied for a visa at a US embassy but had yet to find out if he was successful.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said he did not believe Thaksin would be able to enter the US. The US and many European Union countries have denied him entry in the past.

National police chief Wichean Potephosree said police were trying to check the whereabouts of Thaksin.

DSI to ask for remand of two Pheu Thai MPs

Posted by arnon_k On December - 3 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

The Department of Special Investigation will on Tuesday petition the Criminal Court to cancel the temporary release of Jatuporn Promphan and Karun Hosakul, two opposition MPs charged for terrorism.
DSI chief Tharit Pengdit said he will directly request the bail review and the remand of the two MPs in the face of rejection by public prosecutors to act on DSI’s behalf.
As lead investigator on the case, Tharit is empowered to bypass public prosecutors to present his arguments with the court.

Terror suspects held over

Posted by arnon_k On December - 3 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Police seek more time to gather information
Three suspected members of a passport forgery gang arrested in Thailand believed to be linked with terrorist groups and organised crime have been refused bail.
The DSI asked the Criminal Court yesterday to refuse bail for the three, reasoning that they were suspected of being involved in supporting terrorist groups and should not be given the chance to jump bail and escape. The court approved the request.

The three suspects denied all accusations.

DSI officers and immigration police detained a Pakistani national, identified as Zeeshan Ehsan Butt, 27, on Wednesday after a raid on a house in Bangkok’s Rat Burana district.

This followed the arrest on Tuesday of a couple identified as Muhammad Athar Butt, 39, and Sirikalya Kitbamrung, 25, as they were about to cross into Laos from Nong Khai.

Police say a search of the Rat Burana house uncovered equipment used to forge passports, including fake passport stamps, a computer, a printer, a black light, mail box numbers from Spain, where other suspects have been arrested, and information about the sending of false passports.

DSI deputy chief Narat Savetnant yesterday said information from Spanish police indicated the passport forgery gang was linked with an extremist group which was responsible for several terror incidents in Madrid, including train bombings in 2004 which killed 191, a car bomb attack at the international airport, and an arson attack that gutted a 32-storey building. The group was also responsible for a car bomb at a university in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona in October 2008.

The DSI yesterday asked the Criminal Court to approve the further detention of the three suspects while investigations continued.

The DSI said it needed time to question 20 witnesses and wait for the results of forensic tests.

Mr Narat claimed the gang had used Thailand as a base to produce fake passports and passed them to transnational crime groups. Members of the gang come mostly from South Asia, particularly Pakistan.

He said members of the passport forgery gang which operated in Europe stole passports and travel documents from tourists in several countries, including Spain and France, and sent them to Thailand where they were falsified and passed to terrorist groups and organised crime groups involved in human trafficking, arms trafficking and illegal immigration.

The National Police Office, Immigration Bureau, Customs Department and Spanish embassy have been alerted to the case.

Seven men – six Pakistanis and one Nigerian – were arrested in the Spanish city of Barcelona and accused of providing fake identification documents to groups linked to al-Qaeda.

Mr Narat said the suspected gang members who were arrested in Spain and in Thailand were suspected to be linked to the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was responsible for the attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 in which 174 people were killed, and to a terrorist group involved in acts of sabotage in Spain.

The Spanish embassy’s police attache Jaime Fa said the arrests were part of a major international operation by law enforcers against a network suspected of forging passports for groups linked to al-Qaeda.

He claimed the three suspected members of the passport forgery gang who were arrested in Thailand operated as the final production unit before the falsified passports were sent to terrorist groups overseas.

A DSI source said stolen passports and travel documents were sent by mail to Thailand. The documents were then allegedly falsified by the three.

Forged passports range in price between 40,000 and 60,000 baht.

Old passports and passports that carry many stamps fetch high prices as they look more credible, the source said, adding that customers were largely in the Middle East.

Immigration Bureau investigation division chief Manu Mekmok said the bureau was handling more than 10 cases related to international terrorist groups. Police are hunting those subject to arrest warrants for being involved with terrorist activities.

DSI probe progress on Bangkok unrest

Posted by arnon_k On November - 25 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

The Department of Special Investigation is working to solve 254 cases, including 89 people killed, related to violence triggered by the red-shirt protests in April and May, DSI director general Tharit Pengdit said on Tuesday in a progress report.
The investigation has drawn conclusion for some 54 cases which are under the judicial review, Tharit said.

Of the 89 people killed during the unrest, investigators have divided the casualties into two groups – one caused by the red-shirt unrest and another inflicted by unidentified culprits with suspected involvement of state officials, he said.

Among killings related to the unrest, there are eight ongoing cases. These include the killing of five soldiers, including Colonel Romklao Thuwatham, on April 10 near Din So Road,

Another highly-publicised case is the M-79 attack at Sala Daeng BTS station with one death and 37 injured followed by the gun and grenade attack at a police checkpoint at Sala Daeng and another M-79 attack near Lumpini Park.

The other cases are the attack at a security checkpoint at Bangkok Bank on Silom Road, the bombing attack near Big C store on Rajdamri Road and the arson attack of the Central World shopping mall.

Of the cases involving unidentied culprits, four have been sent back of the Royal Thai Police for further forensic checks.

The four are the killing of three victims at Wat Pathum Wanaram, the shot-dead of a conscript soldier at National Monument, the killing of a man, believed to be a red-shirt guard, at Dusit Zoo, and the April 10 killing of a Japanese journalist at Din So Road.

In regard to the killing at Wat Pathum Wanaram, six were shot dead but additional checks were required for only three victims. The three were shot from above ground. And the security forces conceded six officers were deployed at the elevated train track near the temple at the time of the incident.

Tharist said should the four cases be found to involve state officials as culprits, the criminal procedures prescribe for the opening of the judicial inquest.