Thai general in court over human trafficking

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Lieutenant General Manas Kongpan (C), suspected of involvement in human trafficking, walks as he arrives at the criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand, November 10, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

Dozens of Thai people, including an army general, have appeared in court for a hearing over their purported involvement in human trafficking.

Lieutenant General Manas Kongpan (C), suspected of involvement in human trafficking, walks as he arrives at the criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand, November 10, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

Army general Manas Kongpan, along with the other suspects, including military officials, appeared in a court in the capital, Bangkok, for a procedural hearing.

Manas’ lawyer, Noppachai Veratanya, denied the charges brought against his client at the court.

“We deny all the charges and I have prepared a dozen witnesses in this case,” Noppachai said.

According to reports, four military officers have been implicated, two of whom have yet to be arrested.

Last month, major general Paween Pongsirin resigned over safety concerns after implicating senior military figures linked to human trafficking, a reportedly multi-million-dollar trade in Indonesia.

Manas and 71 others had been indicted on July 23.

Thailand has become a hub for the trafficking of persecuted Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.

In recent months, thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants have been stranded in boats in Southeast Asian waters, waiting to be rescued and taken to neighboring countries including Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. A fresh wave of migrants arriving on boat is expected as the rainy season comes to an end.

Thai authorities discovered remains of Myanmarese migrants from a number of graves at an abandoned human-trafficking camp in the southern province of Songkhla over the summer.

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