Police charge two over dolphins' deaths

Police charge two over dolphins' deaths

Police have pressed charges against a boat skipper and his assistant for killing four dolphins and sun-drying them for food.

The four dead dolphins were among more than 30 caught by a trawler overseen by Thanchai Mingmit and his aide Santi Buaphut as the Malaysian-flagged ship was sailing through Malaysian waters in a bid to catch tuna, Legal Affairs and Litigation Office chief Chariwat Waisaya said yesterday.

Some of the dolphins suffered from broken backs and died as trawler men were attempting to bring them on board, Pol Lt Gen Chariwat said, referring to a video clip which drew fierce criticism from netizens.

The two suspects admitted that they had caught the dolphins, threw away the dead ones, and ordered crewmen to "butcher four of them to prepare sun-dried meat", he said.

Police are investigating whether the pair have committed similar acts in the past as they do not believe this was an isolated case.

The Royal Decree on Fisheries' Section 66 prohibits catching sea mammals and endangered species. Meanwhile, Section 145 states that violators will be fined up to three million baht.

The pair were summoned to meet police after a five-minute-long clip went viral on the internet in July and prompted an investigation by the Port-in Port-out (Pipo) control centre in Pattani.

According to Pipo, the trawler was originally registered in Thailand with the name Sor Pornthep Nawee 9, however, its owner later sold the vessel to a Malaysian in 2017 for fishing in Malaysian waters.

Though the wrongdoing took place outside Thai waters, officials are "authorised to act against Thai suspects committing offences worldwide", Pol Lt Gen Chariwat said.

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