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Pattaya Daily News

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14 December 2009 :: 11:12:00 am 30964

Alleged Arms Traffickers Detained and Refused Bail in Bangkok

The 5 foreign nationals arrested by Thai authorities after their cargo plane was searched and over 35 tons of weaponry was found, have been detailed and refused bail whilst investigations continue.
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Bangkok, the 14th of December 2009 [Pattaya Daily News]: Early on Saturday the 12th of December, acting on a tip-off, Thai authorities seized a substantial amount of military grade weaponry, including rocket-propelled grenades, surface-to-air missiles and ammunition, from a military style transport plane which landed at the Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok for refuelling. All five crew members having been arrested and detained. Four of the men; Alexander Zrybnev, Viktor Abdullayev, Vitaly Shumkov and Ilyas Isakov are from Kazakhstan, and Mikhail Petukhov the pilot, holds a Belarusian passport. A statement by police has explained that all 5 men have strenuously denied the charges of trafficking war weaponry and would fight them in court.

As reports of the incident have filtered across the globe, the attention is now focused on the Thai interrogation of the five foreign suspects, who have reportedly claimed that they thought they were transporting heavy equipment for use on oil rigs, insisting that they had no knowledge of the war materials. Mr. Petukhov, who was the pilot of the transport plane, reportedly told interrogators that they picked up the goods in North Korea and were to offload them in the Ukraine. Mr. Petukhov also explained to the Crime Suppression Commission (CSC) interrogators that he had performed similar transport flights before in similar circumstances.

Reports have emerged that the final destination for the weaponry had been Colombo, Sri Lanka; however Air Force chief and Acting Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Roshan Goonetilike denied that the seized weaponry was to be used by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. He categorically denied that the consignment had anything to do with Sri Lanka, stating that the plane may have planned to touch down at the Bandaranaike International Airport for refuelling; however it was not to be their final destination.

Initially the five men have been charged with violating aviation regulations and arms trafficking laws. The men are being detained at the Police Crime Suppression Division. A request has been filed with the criminal court for permission to further detain and interrogate the men at the Bangkok Special Prison, bail is expected to be refused.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Sunday the Thai government will report this to the United Nations in accordance with the UN resolution restricting weapons trade in and out of Communist North Korea. Mr. Thaugsuban also informed the media that the countries of the five detained foreigners will be notified. Meanwhile, Crime Suppression Police early on Sunday morning began the interrogation process.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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