Naw Kham executed for sailor killings

Golden Triangle drug kingpin Naw Kham was executed in China on Friday along with three accomplices, including a Thai national, for murdering 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River in 2011.

  • Published: 2/03/2013 at 02:07 AM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

Naw Kham: Received lethal injection

The executions were carried out by lethal injection by a court in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, state media quoted local officials as saying.

Thai citizen Hsang Kham, Lao national Zha Xika, and Yi Lai, who was stateless, were executed along with Naw Kham, from Myanmar, after China’s highest court approved their death sentences. In an unusual move, Chinese authorities allowed state media to film and photographNawKhamduring his transfer early yesterday afternoon from a detention centre to the court’s execution area.

State broadcaster China Central Television showed police removing Naw Kham’s handcuffs and binding his arms behind his back with rope, a standard ritual before executions in China. Naw Kham and his gang were found guilty of attacking two Chinese cargo ships in collusion with Thai soldiers in the Chiang Rai section of the Mekong in October 2011, while they kidnapped other Chinese sailors and held their ships for ransom earlier the same year, the court said.

At his appeal hearing in December, Naw Kham was quoted as saying he had ‘‘neither plotted nor ordered the murder’’ of the sailors in October 2011 and only heard about the attack later.

During his trial, Naw Kham put sole responsibility for the murders on Thai soldiers. He later pleaded guilty to the charges, before changing his plea again at the appeal hearing, state media reports said.

Two other members of Naw Kham’s gang, both Myanmar citizens, were given a suspended death sentence and eight years in prison for their involvement in the murder, kidnapping and hijacking. Meanwhile, the Thai Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) will press ahead with seizing Nor Kham’s assets. Vichai Chaimongkhon, director of the Narcotics Control Office Region 5, said yesterday that attempts to seize the drug-related assets of Naw Kham would continue in accordance with a law against drug traffickers despite his execution.

Narcotics control officials and police. earlier seized more than 100 million baht worth of houses, land and other assets belonging to Naw Kham at two locations in Chiang Rai and another in Chiang Mai.

Relatives have two years to oppose the seizure, otherwise the assets will go towards the ONCB’s funds. Authorities are gathering evidence to seize further assets worth hundreds of millions of baht relating to Nor Kham, Mr Vichai said.

Deputy police chief Pol Gen Pansiri Prapawat said there were three legal cases in Thailand in relation to Naw Kham. One is the seizure of 920,000 methamphetamine pills onthe Chinese cargo boats. Police concluded that Naw Kham loaded the drug on to the boats. The second case involves nine Thai soldiers charged with murdering the 13 Chinese sailors and disposing of their bodies by dropping them into the river.

The Chiang Rai court ruled the sailors had been killed with the guns of soldiers and Naw Kham. Nine soldiers have been charged, including two commissioned officers.

Meanwhile, police are hunting a 57-year-old Thai identified as Jamras Sompongpan who is suspected of planning the crimes and coordinating them with Naw Kham and the Thai soldiers. The man was arrested for possessing heroin for trafficking in 1983. The third case concerns robbery and detention. Police will report their investigation into this case to the Chiang Rai prosecution next week.

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Writer: Bangkok Post and DPA

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