Xaysana denies charges, will fight case in court

Xaysana Keopimpha arrives at the Criminal Court on Tuesday. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

Accused Lao drug lord Xaysana Keopimpha has denied involvement in the smuggling of 1.2 million methamphetamine pills into Thailand with intent to sell and will fight the charges filed against him in court.

Mr Xaysana, 42, was taken from the Central Correctional Institution for Drug Addicts, where he is being detained, and arraigned in the Criminal Court on Tuesday morning by public prosecutors.

According to the indictment filed on April 12, Mr Xaysana and six other alleged accomplices had operated  as a network in smuggling 1.2 million methamphetamine pills into Thailand from Laos through the Nong Khai checkpoint on Sept 30, 2016. 

The drugs were intended to be handed over to members of the network in the south of Thailand and then smuggled into Malaysia.

The charges were brought under several drugs-related laws.

Police arrested some members of the network with the drugs on Oct 1, 2016.  After an extended investigation, Mr Xaysana was arrested at Suvarnabhumi airport on arrival from Phuket on Jan 19 this year.

During questioning the suspect had allegedly confessed to committing the offences, which occurred in Laos, the Nong Khai immigration checkpoint and other related locations.

However, after the indictment was read to him by the court, Mr Xaysana denied the charges.  He said he had engaged a lawyer to fight the case.

The Criminal Court scheduled June 19, at 9am, for the pre-trial examination of evidence.

The six other suspects have previously been indicted in the Criminal Court.

Vorakorn Pongthanakul, Mr Xaysana's lawyer, said his client denied all charges filed by the prosecutoion and would submit a statement in writing to the court.

He said he felt heavy hearted as the case carries a maximum penalty of death. He would do his best to defend his client.

Mr Vorakorn said Mr Xaysana was worried while in detention, as he had never previously been convicted of any offence.  His client's relatives in Laos would decide whether to apply for bail, he added.

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