PACC mulls ex-cop trafficking rap

The Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) is considering whether to file charges against a police officer for alleged involvement in the trafficking of illegal Rohingya immigrants in Phang Nga.

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Snr Sgt Veerayut Ferngfull, formerly of Tai Muang police station, was accused of collaborating with a Rohingya man to lure five female Rohingya, two of them minors, from a Phang Nga refugee shelter in May last year.

One of the adult women was raped on an island an hour away from Kuraburi district.

The human trafficking charge against a police officer has captured the attention of the foreign media. Thai authorities are obliged to keep the US embassy informed because Thailand has been on the US Trafficking in Persons report for the last three years.

Snr Sgt Veerayut was dismissed from the force in July last year in connection with the allegations, but he was not detained. Last week he was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment for helping the Rohingya to escape authorities’ custody.

The PACC was setting up a panel to look into the human trafficking charges against him, according to Kuraburi police station superintendent Pol Col Veerasilp Kwanseng.

The rape charge was filed against Korlimula Ramahaty, 26, another Rohingya allegedly involved in the human trafficking incident. He was acquitted last week by Takuapa Provincial Court and was awaiting deportation in Phang Nga. There is a 30-day limit for appeals against the case, said Phang Nga-based public prosecutor Suthani Sripitak.

Mr Suthani said the court cited inadequate evidence in Korlimula’s acquittal. Pol Col Veerasilp asked why Korlimula had not been charged with trafficking or collaborating with Snr Sgt Veerayut. Officials at the station where Snr Sgt Veerayut was formerly employed have written to prosecutors seeking an explanation.

“We need to report every detail to headquarters as they have to update the US with all the developments of the trafficking case,” a Kuraburi police officer said.

Two of the Rohingya adults were released after 11 days when they failed to give more money to the two suspects. The other adult and her two children were taken to a nearby island. Here, the mother claims she was raped three times by Korlimula.

None of the five Rohingya testified at the trial as they escaped from the shelter a few months after charges were brought against the men.

The Thai government has not yet decided on how to proceed with the nearly 2,000 Rohingya intercepted at sea last year. Most of those staying in shelters and at immigration detention have escaped.

Dararat Suthes, head of the Shelter for Children and Family in Phang Nga’s Takuapa District, said only 12, down from 200, women and children were currently in her custody.

Ms Dararat said, due to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, four female Rohingya would soon be relocated to Bangkok ready for resettlement in the US.

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