Ex-Satun chief surrenders to face trafficking charges
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Ex-Satun chief surrenders to face trafficking charges

'Ko Tong' denies all charges

Police chief Somyot Pumpunmuang, sitting second left, shows Patchuban
Police chief Somyot Pumpunmuang, sitting second left, shows Patchuban "Ko Tong" Angchotipan (in white t-shirt) in Bang Khen district, Bangkok, on Monday. (Royal Thai Police photo)

Key human-trafficking suspect Patchuban “Ko Tong” Angchotipan surrendered to police Monday but the former president of the Satun provincial administration organisation denied all the charges against him, reports said.

Mr Patchuban surrendered to Pol Gen Chakthip Chaichinda, a deputy police chief, at the Police Aviation Division in Bang Khen this morning after initially going on the lam.

He reportedly fled three days before a warrant was issued for his arrest following the discovery of mass graves for Rohingya Muslim and Bangladeshi migrants at a number of detention camps in Songkhla province. He was thought first to have escaped to Malaysia.

At 2pm, Pol Gen Somyot Pumpunmuang, the national police chief, called a press conference at the Royal Thai Police Office on Mr Patchuban's arrest.

Mr Patchuban denied the charges, saying he had not been involved in any way in the trafficking of migrants and that he would testify in court only.

He said he had earlier contacted police to surrender, but kept it a secret for safety reasons. He chose to surrender in Bangkok where he believed he would be well protected.

Pol Gen Somyot said Mr Patchuban would be escorted to the Region 9 Provincial Police headquarters in Songkhla for further questioning.  Court permission would be sought to detain him for interrogation and police investigators would oppose his request for bail.

Earlier, at the forward headquarters of the Region 9 Provincial Police's operations centre in Songkhla, Pol Lt Gen Montree Potranan, the Region 9 Provincial Police commissioner, and his deputy Pol Maj Gen Puthichart Ekachan held a press conference on the progress of the investigation into human trafficking in Songkhla, Satun and Ranong provinces.

Pol Maj Gen Puthichart said warrants have been issued for three more suspects based in Ranong.

In total, warrants had been issued for 65 suspects, of whom 29 have been arrested while the 35 others remained at large.

Police have seized assets worth about 81 million baht from 15 human-trafficking suspects and 37 alleged members of the trafficking ring. Authorities were in the process of seizing more assets in Songkhla.

Pol Maj Gen Puthichart said Malaysia will send a police contingent to join the Thai police's investigation because a number of Malaysian suspects had fled to Thailand while some Thai perpetrators had escaped to Malaysia. 

They will arrive in one or two days and will work at the Region 9 police operations centre.

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