Former Pulo leader paroled

Former Pulo leader paroled

The government has released a former key figure in the southern insurgency on parole in hopes that he might help with efforts to restore peace in the troubled South.

Ismael Gaddafi, alias Sama-ae Thanam, the 63-year-old former head of the Patani United Liberation Organisation (Pulo), was released from the Yala provincial prison on Friday.

He had been sentenced to life imprisonment for terrorism and separatism in 1997. He later received three pardons that reduced his term to 27 years and nine months. He was eligible for parole after 17 years and five months.

Panu Uthairat, secretary-general of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre, said Prime Minister Prayut Cha-o-cha initiated the parole as Ismael had been a good inmate. The release was also timely for his family as Muslims were celebrating the end of the Ramadan fasting month.

Ismael must report to authorities monthly in the remaining 10 years of his term, said Col Pramote Prom-in, spokesman for the southern forward command of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc).

Col Pramote said he expected the release would create positive attitudes toward the administration of justice by the government and possibly help the stalled peace process.

Vitaya Suriyawong, director-general of the Corrections Department, said Ismael's age and good behaviour in jail justified his right to parole and reunion with his family. While out of prison he must not repeat his offences or leave the country without seeking permission beforehand, Mr Vitaya said.

Family members said Ismael would live in Panare district of Pattani and in Malaysia as the family had a restaurant in Terengganu state.

The family also said that Ismael knew many groups of people and would help communicate messages and intentions to solve southern problems from Prime Minister Prayut.

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