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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fraud suspects returned to Taiwan on charter flight for 1st time

Taipei, June 11 (CNA) A group of 122 Taiwanese fraud suspects were flown back to Taipei from Macau on a private EVA Airways flight early Saturday, marking the first time in Taiwan's crime-fighting history that a chartered plane was used to transport suspected criminals.

They were all arrested in Cambodia in a joint regional crime-fighting operation on Thursday, in which a total of 598 suspects, including 410 Taiwanese and 181 Chinese nationals, were nabbed.

The suspects were rounded up in Taiwan, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand for allegedly operating Internet and telephone scams mainly targeting Chinese and Taiwanese, according to the Crimin.

The bureau sent 60 detectives to escort the 122 fraud suspects back to Taiwan from Macau. The suspects arrived in Macau from Cambodia, along with 181 Chinese suspects, aboard a plane chartered by China.

After they arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, another 40 police officers were dispatched to escort them to the central city of Taichung for questioning.

Some CIB agents said the in-flight escort mission was reminiscent of the Hollywood action-thriller film "Con Air, " in which a newly released ex-con and former U.S. Ranger found himself trapped on a prisoner transport plane when the passengers seized control.

Police sources said the CIB would send another chartered plane to Indonesia in the next couple of days to fly back the 100 suspects arrested there in the June 9 operation.

It marked the first time that law enforcement officers from both sides of the Taiwan Strait simultaneously collaborated with their counterparts in Southeast Asian countries in a cross-border crime-fighting operation.

Taiwan alone mobilized more than 800 police officers to join the massive crackdown on telecom and Internet scams.

National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun said Friday that the operation had dealt a heavy blow to the fraud rings and should help reduce fraud cases in Taiwan.

Moreover, he said, it was the first time that Taiwanese and mainland Chinese police had jointly investigated fraud cases in a third country.

"We believe the operation has set a new trend in joint crime-fighting," he added.

Taiwanese fraud rings have reportedly relocated to Southeast Asia since an agreement was singed two years ago between Taiwan and China to work more closely to bust such operations, police
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Cambodia slams Thai 'spy' arrests

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Cambodia has accused Thailand of "deceitful fabrication" after Thai police arrested three men on suspicion of spying near the neighbours' disputed border.

"The Royal Government of Cambodia wishes to assert that the above fabrication is only a pretext to justify future aggression against Cambodia," said a foreign ministry statement released on Friday.

Thailand and Cambodia are locked in a bitter dispute over their shared border that has seen 28 people killed in two outbreaks of fierce fighting this year, and the row has since moved to the United Nations' highest court.

On Friday Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the alleged spying activities were unacceptable and accused Phnom Penh of "violating Thai territory".

One Thai, one Cambodian and a Vietnamese man were picked up in Thailand's northeastern Si Sa Ket province on Tuesday evening carrying maps with military facilities marked on them, according to Thai police.

The suspects have denied they were spying in the area, the officer who made the arrest told AFP.

Cambodia said it "categorically rejects this deceitful fabrication by the Thai authorities and prime minister, intending to mislead the public and malign Cambodia", adding it had no need to spy.

Last month the country launched a legal bid at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague seeking to force Thailand to pull troops from a disputed strip of land near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple.

The court ruled in 1962 that the temple itself belonged to Cambodia but both Phnom Penh and Bangkok claim ownership of a 4.6-square-kilometre (1.8-square-mile) patch of nearby territory.

In April Cambodia asked the ICJ to clarify its initial ruling.
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PM: Thai FM will clarify on spy case to concerned agencies

BANGKOK, June 11 -- Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Saturday that he had assigned Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya to clarify on the arrest of three men -- a Thai, a Cambodian and a Vietnamese -- apprehended earlier this week on charges of alleged spying of Thai paramilitary bases and bunkers built for Thai villagers at the Thai-Cambodian border to concerned agencies.

Mr Abhisit told journalists the clarification would be made after the Phnom Penh government reportedly issued a statement saying that it has never sent spies to gather intelligence in Thailand and alleged that the ongoing charges were made up by the Thai government on a pretext to invade Cambodia.

Although he had not yet seen the statement, Mr Abhisit said he has ordered Mr Kasit to clarify the matter to concerned offices.

On Friday, Mr Kasit said his ministry had informed the Cambodian and Vietnamese embassies in Bangkok about the arrest of their nationals for alleged spying, affirming that legal action would be taken under Thai law. The trio were identified as Suchart Muhammad, 32, a Thai national; Ung Kimtai, 43, a Cambodian national, and Nguyen Tengyang, 37, a Vietnamese national, and were arrested Tuesday evening at a Thai border village in the northeastern province of Si Sa Ket.

Mr Kasit said on Saturday the Thai government is willing to exchange the arrested Cambodian and the Vietnamese with two Thai activists now detained in Cambodia on espionage charges, but under the Thai law a prisoner must serve at least two-thirds of jail term before an exchange of prisoners could be possible.

A Cambodian court ruled on February 1 that Veera Somkwamkid, Thai Patriots Network coordinator, and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon were guilty of espionage, illegal entry, and trespassing in a military zone. Mr Veera was sentenced to an eight-year jail term and a 1.8 million riel (US$450) fine, while Ms Ratree was handed a six-year jail term and a 1.2 million riel (US$300) fine.

Thailand has always cooperated with Cambodia, Mr Kasit said, adding that it would be better to wait for the Thai judicial process regarding the apprehended three men proceeded before the government issued further statement. (MCOT online news)
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