Key human trafficker dies in jail

Key human trafficker dies in jail

Lt Gen Manas Kongpan, centre, at the Criminal Court in Bangkok in December 2015. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)
Lt Gen Manas Kongpan, centre, at the Criminal Court in Bangkok in December 2015. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)

Lt Gen Manas Kongpan, a convict in the country's largest human-trafficking case, died of heart attack at Medical Correctional Hospital on Wednesday night.

Sources said that Lt Gen Manas, a former army adviser and native of the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, had a heart attack while exercising on the eight floor of the hospital. He was pronounced dead at around 8pm on Wednesday.

Earlier he had had hypertension, high cholesterol and bradycardia and been admitted to the hospital.

His body was sent to Police General Hospital for autopsy. His funeral rites would be held at Wat Chonprathan Rangsarit in Nonthaburi province from Friday to Sunday.

Lt Gen Manas, 65, was among 103 people accused over their roles in the trafficking of Rohingya migrants to jungle camps in the South. It is believed to be the country's biggest human trafficking case ever tried in court.

He was among those found guilty of several offences involving trafficking and taking bribes.

The defendants were arrested in a massive crackdown following the discovery of more than 30 graves in May, 2015 on top of Khao Kaew mountain in tambon Padang Besar in Songkhla's Sadao district near the Thai-Malaysian border.

The bodies, found close to a makeshift camp, were suspected Rohingya Muslim migrants who were possibly victims of human trafficking.

There was insufficient food and water at the camp where the detainees were kept. The detainees were not allowed to use phones and were threatened if they tried to contact anyone.

In November 2019 the Appeal Court hiked prison terms in the mass Rohingya graves case. For some defendants, including Lt Gen Manas and several local southern politicians, the sentences were quadrupled to around 80 years.

The Appeal Court's verdict raised the jail terms after additionally finding the defendants guilty of smuggling illegal migrants into the country, trafficking and being part of a transnational criminal organisation.

Under the Appeal Court's ruling, the prison term for Lt Gen Manas was increased from 27 to 82 years.

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