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Malaysia charges four Thai men with people smuggling over mass graves

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia on Friday (Jun 23) charged four Thai nationals for smuggling migrants from Myanmar in a case related to the 2015 discovery of mass graves and suspected human trafficking camps at the country’s border with Thailand, state news agency Bernama reported.

A total of 139 graves and over two dozen campsites suspected to have been run by people-smuggling groups were discovered in 2015 in Wang Kelian, Malaysia along the remote border between the two countries.

The dense forests of southern Thailand and northern Malaysia have been a major stop-off point for smugglers bringing people to Southeast Asia by boat – most of them Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar and squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh.

The four Thai men were charged in Malaysia under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 for smuggling two Myanmar nationals, Bernama reported.

If found guilty, the men face a maximum jail term of 15 years and a fine.

The court did not allow bail and no plea was recorded from the Thai nationals, Bernama reported.

The four men were extradited from Thailand this week. On Thursday, Malaysia said they were among 10 Thai nationals it had sought for extradition since 2017 as part of its probe into the border camps.

A Malaysian public inquiry launched in 2019 found weaknesses on the part of border patrols but concluded that no Malaysian enforcement officials, public servants or locals were involved in trafficking or migrant smuggling syndicates.

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