Thailand News

European Parliament calls for visa restrictions on Cambodian officials

Thai PBS English News -

The European Parliament has resolved to call on the European Commission and the European External Action Service to impose visa restrictions on selected Cambodian officials and freeze their assets in response to ongoing crackdown on the opposition and civil society in Cambodia.

The EU parliament also resolved to review human rights clauses of the Everything But Arms agreement (EBA) for temporary suspension, the Phnom Penh Post reported on Friday (Dec 15).

Under Article 19 of the EBA, the preferential agreement may be temporarily withdrawn for all or certain products and this will affect a number of Cambodian exports to the EU such as sugar and garments.

However, the resolution adopted by the European Parliament is not binding though it sends a strong signal to the commission to take action.

This is the fifth resolution on Cambodia adopted by the European Parliament in its legislative term since 2014.

“Last month, democracy and the rule of law in Cambodia received a brutal blow,” said parliamentarian Charles Tamnock, referring to the Supreme Court’s decision to dissolve the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on Nov 16.

The commission is monitoring the situation in Cambodia and is checking whether conditions are fulfilled for a potential temporary withdrawal, said Karmenu Vella of the European Commission.

The resolution also calls on the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the commission to prepare a list of individuals responsible for the dissolution of the opposition and other serioius human rights violations with a view to imposing possible visa restrictions and assets seizure.

On Dec 6, the US State Department also issued visa restrictions on Cambodians involved in undermining democracy in Cambodia in direct response to the Cambodian government’s series of anti-democratic actions.

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Tour guide apologizes for inappropriate behaviour at Temple of Dawn

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Tourist police today (Dec 16) escorted a 44-year-old female guide to Wat Arun pagoda to apologize for her “inappropriate” behaviour in climbing and stepping on the ancient pagoda to take photos.

Noranon Norakamin, a Thai tour guide, reported herself to Bang Yai police yesterday (Dec 15) after the police summoned her to acknowledge charge of violating the Ancient Monuments, Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museums Act.

The charge came after a tourism news Facebook page posted photos of Ms Noranon stepping on the sacred Phra Prang Wat Arun with her foreign tourist client for photo shoot.

The photos went viral on the social media with many viewers criticising her behaviour as inappropriate and could cause damages to the ancient pagoda.

Pol Maj-Gen Surachet Hakpan, deputy commission of the Tourist Police Bureau  Hakpan today escorted her to the pagoda to apologize for the misbehaviour.

After that the police brought her to Talingchang provincial court for indictment.

Violators of the Ancient Monuments, Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museums Act could face up to one month in prison and a 10,000 baht fine.

Pol Maj-Gen Surachet said around 34 million foreign tourists visit Thailand each year, so, police have to step up law enforcement to preserve the country’s tourism resources.

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Sontirat: Upgrading Thailand’s IP watch list status a boost to the country’s image

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The upgrading of Thailand’s intellectual property watch list status by the United States Trade Representative will boost the country’s image, trade and investment, Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said today (Dec 16).

The removal of Thailand from the priority watch list of intellectual property violation  by the USTR will also contribute to the government’s Thailand 4.0 policy, which focuses on innovation- and technology-driven economy, Mr Sontirat said.

He was responding to the USTR’s announcement on Dec 15 that the agency is removing Thailand from the Special 301 Priority Watch List to the Watch List due to the country’s improving intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement.

The minister said Thailand was among the 11 countries under the US priority watch list on intellectual property violation in the latest round of the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review.

The upgrade of the country’s status from Priority Watch List to Watch List reflected the progress of the country’s efforts in intellectual property protection, he said.

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Thailand removed from USTR’s Priority Watch List

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The United States Trade Representative (USTR) has decided to move Thailand from the Special 301 Priority Watch List to the Watch List due to the country’s improving intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement.

“We welcome the corrective actions that Thailand has taken and look forward to continuing to work with Thailand to resolve our remaining IP concerns,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a press release on Dec 15 announcing the conclusion and results of the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review (OCR) of Thailand.

The Special 301 Report is the result of an annual review of the state of IP protection and enforcement in US trading partners.

Mr Lighthizer said the Trump Administration has been closely engaging with Thailand on improving IP protection and enforcement as part of the bilateral US-Thailand Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.

He cited the establishment of an interagency National Committee on Intellectual Property Policy and a subcommittee on enforcement against intellectual property infringement, led by the Prime Minister and a Deputy Prime Minister, as an example of Thailand’s commitment in IP protection.

“Thailand also has been taking steps to address backlogs for patent and trademark applications, including significantly increasing the number of examiners and streamlining regulations.  In addition, Thailand joined the Madrid Protocol, making it easier for US companies to apply for trademarks, and took steps to address concerns regarding online piracy affecting the US content industry,” according to the USTR press release.

The USTR also lauded Thailand for improving transparency related to pharmaceutical issues, such as taking stakeholder input in the amendment of the Drug Act and providing interested stakeholders with regular consultation opportunities with the Thai Food and Drug Administration.

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PM vows remedy measures to help rubber farmers

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Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has promised rubber farmers that more remedy measures will be rolled out to help them.

Speaking after chairing the Natural Rubber Policy Committee meeting on Friday (Dec 15), the prime minister said the committee approved several measures to resolve falling rubber prices, and they would be tabled for cabinet approval next week.

But the Prime Minister said rubber farmers should not anticipate instant price change from the remedy measures.

He said rubber farmers should not pressure for immediate raise of prices.

The measures will gradually bolster rubber prices in the whole system which will correspond with global situation, he said.

Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Grisda Boonrach

Meanwhile, Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Grisda Boonrach said that the committee agreed to allocate a portion of budget to compensate interest burden of rubber farmers at not more than 3%.

Moreover, government agencies will be encouraged to increase the use of rubber, while farmers will be advised to lower rubber planting areas next year for three months from January to March to delay market supply.

Under this short-term measure to tackle rubber price slump, the Rubber Authority of Thailand will compensate each family 4,000 baht.

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Huge caches of drugs worth over 4 billion baht seized in past three weeks

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The Royal Thai Police said the police have busted several drug trafficking gangs in the capital and the provinces during the past three weeks and have seized over 26 million methamphetamine pills and “Ice” worth over 4 billion baht on street prices.

Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda told a press conference on Friday (Dec 15) that drugs were destined for third countries.

He said drug trafficking would be intensified during the upcoming New Year festivals, therefore, he had ordered police nationwide to step up operations during the festive season to curb drug activities.

On Wednesday (Dec 13), metropolitan police busted a major drug trafficking gang and seized more than 5 million meth pills, more than 120 kilogrammes of Ice and an M16 assault rifle and ammunition in a raid  at a house in Nonthaburi.

The narcotic suppression police had been tracking the suspected drug trafficker,  Pornthep Meenak and his gang for some time.

They were allegedly involved in bringing in and distributing meths to customers in Nonthaburi province and Bangkok.

The gang was well organized with clearly defined duties for each member and the house in Nonthaburi was rented to be used as a transit point, Pol Gen Chakthip said.

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NACC asked to investigate Gen Prawit’s wristwatch collections

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Thai Constitution Protection Association secretary-general Srisuwan Janya on Friday (Dec 15) petitioned the National Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon’s wristwatch collection.

In the petition, Mr Srisuwan submitted as evidence a number of photos circulated on social media showing the deputy prime minister wearing different brands of wristwatch, including the one that believed to be a 4-million-baht  Richard Mille model RM30 which he said was different from the one worn by the deputy prime minister in a group photo session of Cabinet ministers at the Government House on Dec 4.

Noting that the photos have provided an important piece of information to be probed by the NACC, he said he would like the anti-graft body to find out exactly how many expensive wristwatches which are owned by Gen Prawit and whether he has declared them with the NACC or not.

NACC acting secretary-general Worawit Sookboon said that Gen Prawit has 30 days until Jan 8 to clarify to the NACC about the latter’s expensive wristwatches and how they were acquired and at what prices.

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Kamnan Poh’s remaining jailterm suspended

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The parole committee of the Corrections Department has agreed to suspend the remaining jailterm of Somchai Khunpluem, alias Kamnan Poh, to allow him to receive medical treatment for cancer at hospital outside the prison.

Corrections Department director-general Pol Col Narat Sawettanan said Friday (Dec 15) that the parole committee made the decision on Thursday as a special case, citing Somchai’s old age and serious illness from cancer.

The suspension of Kamnan Poh’s remaining jail term was approved by Justice Minister Prajin Jantong.

Kamnan Poh, former influential local administrator, was sentenced in absentia in 2006 to 30 years and four months imprisonment for corruption and for ordering the murder of Prayoon Sitthichote, another kamnan in Chon Buri.

He was arrested in 2013 when he visited a Bangkok hospital to seek medical treatment for cancer.

However, he spent most of the time receiving treatment at a hospital in Chon Buri, his home province, and later on, at Police General Hospital. 

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CIFS unsuccessful in DNA test on dead cadet’s inner organs

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The Justice Ministry’s Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS) is not successful in conducting a DNA test on inner organs said to be of Pakapong Tanyakan, a first-year student of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School, to verify whether they were really of the cadet because they had been kept in formalin for a long time.

CIFS director Som Phromros said the institute conducted a DNA test for three times on the inner organs, which Pakapong’s relatives received from Phramongkutklao Hospital and handed over them to CIFS on Nov 23.

In the three tests, CIFS officials could not extract the DNA from the inner organs because they had been kept in formalin for a long time.  Therefore, the CIFS was not able to verify whether they belonged to Pakapong.

The CIFS last week sent the organs to the laboratory of Ramathibodi Hospital for a DNA test.  The test result is expected to be known in about two months, Mr Som said.

Mr Som explained that the CIFS conducted an autopsy on Pakapong’s body in two parts.  The first part was the examination of the body and the autopsy result was handed over to the investigators and the relatives on Dec 8.

The second part was the examination of the inner organs, which were kept by Phramongkutklao Hospital and handed over to the relatives, who passed them to the CIFS on Nov 23 for verification and examination.

Pakapong, 18, collapsed at the school’s medical division on Oct 17. He was rushed to Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy School Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 8.24pm. His body was later sent to Phramongkutklao Hospital in Bangkok for autopsy.

However, Pakapong’s family suspected foul play in his death and asked Nakhon Nayok police to investigate the case. Police then requested the CIFS to conduct a second autopsy.

The post CIFS unsuccessful in DNA test on dead cadet’s inner organs appeared first on Thai PBS English News.

DSI arrests 2 suspected pyramid scheme operators

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The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has arrested two Thai nationals, a man and a woman, suspected of being opertors of a transnational pyramid scheme syndicate.

Pol Col Paisit Wongmuang, the DSI chief, said DSI officials, with support from the Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS) and the Anti-Money Laundering Office (GLO), arrested Mr Rathakhet Chayarat, alias Kru Kob, and Mrs Kanokkul Pornapichote on Dec 12 and Dec 14.

Mr Rathakhet and Mrs Kanokkul are among a group of 10 suspects wanted under warrants issued by the Criminal Court in connection with a pyramid scheme operated by Eagle Gates Group, which has been suspected to be a transnational criminal organisation luring people, both in Thailand and other countries, to invest in foreign stock markets, promising a return of more than 100%.

In the search of eight locations, the authorities managed to seize a quantity of valuables.

Of the 10 suspects wanted under court warrants, eight are foreigners. They are still at large.

Pol Col Songsak Raksaksakul, the DSI deputy chief

Pol Col Songsak Raksaksakul, the DSI deputy chief, said the suspects opened the company, inviting both Thais and foreigners to invest in foreign stock markets.  They created confidence in the company by holding seminars at luxurious hotels in various provinces and publicised the activities on both television programmes, website, and printed media.

More than 1,000 people had invested in the scheme, with about 1.7 billion baht in damages.

From the investigation, the DSI has found that the pyramid scheme operators transferred the money to drug gangs abroad to be laundered.

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Coldest time of the year expected next week

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The Thai Meteorological Department (TMD) has predicted next week to be the coldest time of the year with the temperature is expected to drop 6-8 degree Celcius in the upper part of Thailand. The cold spell will also affect Bangkok.

The temperature in Bangkok and nearby provinces may come down below 20 degree Celcius.

TMD director general Wanchai Sakudomchai said during Dec 16-22 the upper part of Thailand will be generally cooler.

A temperature drop by 6-8 degree Celcius will begin with the Northeast from Dec 16, followed by the North, the Central, including Bangkok and nearby provinces, and the East from Dec 17.  The cold spell will continue until Dec 22.

The temperature in the highlands of the North and Northeast is expected to be below 10°C. In the lowlands, the temperature will be around 14-16°C..

For Bangkok, the mercury will be around 17-18°C.

People are advised to take care of their health due to the weather change as there may be rain early next week, followed by the temperature drop.

In the South, there will be rain and heavy rain in some areas of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Songkhla, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.

In the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, there will be strong winds with high waves of 2-3 metres high.

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Chinese “call centre” gang members brought to Bangkok from Songkhla

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Twenty-three Chinese nationals who are alleged to be members of a major call centre scam in Songkhla’s Sadao district were escorted to Bangkok on Friday (Dec 15) after they were busted by a combined force of provincial police, border patrol police, immigration officials and military personnel.

Initial police investigation found that the gang rented 11 houses in Tambon Samnakkham, Sadao district and used them as their operating centre and to store documents.

The source said that there was a safe to contain documents in every rented house.

Pol Gen Thanitsak Thiraswasdi, special advisor to the Royal Thai Police, said that the gang used WeChat application to dupe victims in China to invest with them, to gamble or to buy their online products.

Most of the 23 suspects are from Yunnan or Fujian, Pol Gen Thanitsak said, adding that the gang members entered Thai as tourists and they stayed on for long period of time to operate the call centre scam.

He said police would find out if there were Thais involved with the gang.

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Preparations are underway to dismantle the Royal Crematorium

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The Fine Arts Department is making preparations to dismantle the Royal Crematorium after its closure for public viewing on Dec 31 and to move some of the structures to a new permanent exhibition building in Pathum Thani province.

The new permanent exhibition venue is set to be located on a 10-rai plot of land behind the National Archives in Honour of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Tambon Klong Ha, Klong Luang district of Pathum Thani.

The planned permanent exhibition venue is aimed to be a learning centre about the life and activities of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Culture Minister Veera Rojpojchanarat on Dec 14 chaired a meeting of the committee in charge of organizing exhibitions on Royal Cremation ceremonies to discuss details about the dismantling of the Royal Crematorium and related structures and the construction of the new exhibition ground in Pathum Thani.

The Fine Arts Department is expected to finalise its preparations plan as well as design of the new exhibition centre to be submitted to the cabinet within this year or early next year with a request for funding.

The moving of some structures from the Royal Crematorium, including the Songtham royal merit-making pavilion and the Thap Kaset government officials’ pavilion to the new exhibition venue which is expected to take about two years to complete.

Minister Veera said that only the most significant and unique items at the Royal Crematorium will be moved to the new exhibition centre.

He went on saying that the Fine Arts Department has plan to build a World Heritage Museum and a Museum of Thai Architecture and Thai Chang Sib Moo Artisans.

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Aquino admits he got wrong information on dengue vaccine

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Former President Benigno Aquino 3rd told the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that his decision to approve the purchase of P3.5billion worth of anti-dengue “Dengvaxia” vaccines was based on experts’ initial advice that the drug was safe, according to the report of the Manila Times Online on Friday (Dec 15).

“It was my belief at that time, all the experts that we had consulted, it was safe,” Aquino said in a briefing after attending the Senate hearing into the vaccine deal with the French pharmaceutical manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur.

The former president insisted that he had to make a decision to address the rising number of dengue cases and avoid getting blamed for inaction on the problem.

The committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon who led the probe questioned the speed with which the vaccination program was funded – less than 30 days and after Aquino met with some officials of Sanofi in Paris on Dec 1, 2015.

Aquino confirmed that he, indeed, met with Sanofi officials in Paris at the sidelines of his attendance to the Conference of Parties climate change meeting. 

“From our perspective, the choice is simple. We can implement this at this in time for the protection or wait at least a year as a minimum and expose our people to a risk that could have been prevented because of this vaccine,” he said.

The former president noted that before and after he approved the purchase of the vaccine, no one had advised him about any objection to the vaccine.

Meanwhile, the Volunteer Against Crime and Corruption (Vacc) claimed in a position paper submitted to the Senate panel that Aquino committed plunder when he allowed the release of the fund for the vaccine deal and extended favor to Sanofi.

Vacc also noted that Aquino should have known that no country was undertaking or intended to undertake a subnational vaccination program considering the lack of testing and clinical trials have not been completed.

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Japan submits study on high speed train project to Thailand 

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Japan has recommended Thailand construct the first 380-kilometre section of the 672km Thai-Japanese high-speed train route, says Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

Japan has finished the feasibility study of the first 380-kilometre section of the 672-kilometre Thai-Japanese high speed train route and the Japanese Vice Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Mr Takao Makino submitted submitted the study to Mr Arkhom on Dec 14.

Mr Arkhom said the first section is from Bangkok to Phitsanulok, covering a total distance of 380 kilometres with an investment cost of 280 billion baht.

The study along with investment recommendation will be forwarded to the cabinet for approval in three months.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith

He said that the 380-km route would be split up to shorter distance of 50-100 kilometre sections so that construction could be started early.

He expected that the ministry could issue bidding conditions or TOR (terms of references) by the end of next year.

The minister said the environmental and health impact study of the first section has been carried out and got approval from concerned agencies.

For the remaining section of the 672-kilometre Thai-Japanese high speed train route, Mr Arkhom said the design of the second section from Phitsanulok to Chiang Mai will be started simultaneously when construction of the first section started.

Mr Arkhom said investment in the high speed route would be in the joint venture pattern with breakeven point in 50 years.

He said the train fare will be 80 baht for first entry and the rate will be 1.50 baht per kilometre.

It was estimated that the train fare from Bangkok to Phitsanulok will not exceed 1,100 baht.

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New national park declared in Chiang Mai, Lamphun

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Thailand has declared a new national park that covers rich forest areas in Chiang Mai and Lamphun provinces.

The declaration of the 354.3-square-kilometre Mae Takhrai national park was published in the Royal Gazette on Dec 12 after receiving royal approval.

It will be the country’s 131st national park.

Mae Takhrai national park covers Mae Kuang, Sansai, Mae On, Khun Mae Tha, Mae Ti-Mae Tip, Mae Sarn forests in Doi Saket, Sansai, San Kamphaeng of Chiang Mai, and Muang district of Lamphun province.

The areas are rich with a varieties of plants, wildlife species, and beautiful sceneries, according to the announcement.

The declaration of this new national park will help to preserve the ecological system for environmental, recreational and education purposes. The are will be protected under the National Parks Act B.E.2504.

According to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation, the Mae Takhrai national park is haven to many rare plant species and a varieties of animals which include barking deers, deers, rabbits, monkey, gibbon, civets, porcupine, tigers, and bears.

Tourist spots in the new national park include Doi Lang Ka, Doi Pha Ngum, Doi Mon Lan and Tadmei waterfall.

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RTAF’s probe panel: No physical assaults on cadet Pakapong

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The Royal Thai Armed Forces’ probe panel on the suspicious death of Pakapong Tanyakan, the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School student, found no physical assaults on the cadet and confirmed that he died from sudden heart failure.

ACM Chawarat Marungruang, chairman of the Royal Thai Armed Forces’ probe panel on the death of Pakapong, held a press conference today (Dec 15) to reveal the probe result.

Key findings of the panel are:

1) No physical assaults on Pakapong.

2) Confirmed Phramongkutklao Hospital’s autopsy report that Pakapong died from sudden heart failure.

3) A broken rib caused by CPR which lasted for about four hours.

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Four Cambodian migrant workers killed in truck accident

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Four Cambodian migrant workers died and four others injured when a pickup truck with over 20 workers overturned and plunged into a canal as the driver allegedly tried to escape a police chase.

The tragic end of the chase happened on Highway 331 near Wat Khao temple in Plaeng Yao district of Chachoengsao province at about 2am on Friday (Dec 15).

The pickup truck was reported to bring over 20 Cambodian workers, all of them are believed to be illegal workers, from Sa Kaeo province to Bangkok.

The truck driver was ordered to stop for search at a road checkpoint on the highway as police saw a large canvass covering the truck bed.

But the driver refused to stop and drive through the police checkpoing.

Police chased after the vehicle but as the pickup truck turned to a rural road running along the Ban Duan canal, it skidded off, overturned and plunged into the canal.

Police and rescue workers helped pull out four injured Cambodian workers out the vehicle, while others reportedly fled before authorities arrived.

Four other Cambodians, including one woman, died at the scene.

Police are searching for the owner of the truck and will question three Thais who were among the workers on the truck.

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Two youths arrested for beating a police officer to death 

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Two youths were arrested yesterday (Dec 14) by Ubon Ratchathani provincial police for allegedly beating a 29-year-old police officer to death.

The two male teenagers, aged 16 and 17 years old, were apprehended from their homes in Det Udom district after police looked through all surveillance cameras at and near the scene in the municipal area.

The CCTV footage showed the two youths arrived at the scene on a motorcycle.

According to police investigation, Pol Cpl Thepnarin Sirintranond, 29, who is attached to the Metropolitan Police Bureau in Bangkok, returned to his home in Det Udom district to visit his mother.

On the night of Dec 13, the police officer had drink with his friend at a roadside stall on Chokchai-Det Udom road where they engaged in a quarrel with the two teenagers.

Pol Cpl Thepnarin and his friend drove a motorcycle back home at about 1am when the two teenagers came to stop them.

According to Pol Cpl Thepnarin’s friend, the officer walked up to the two and was allegedly beaten by one youth with a wooden club on the face and head.

The two then fled the scene.

The officer was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Police have charged the two teenagers for murder.

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US thanks Thailand for complying with UNSC resolutions on North Korea

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The United States Special Representative for North Korea thanked Thailand for its compliance with the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on North Korea.

Joseph Yun, United States Special Representative for North Korea Policy, called on Virasakdi Futrakul, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Thursday (Dec 14) when the two exchanged views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

The US special envoy arrived in Bangkok on Wednesday for a two-day visit, which is part of his Dec 11-15 Asia trip.

Mr Yun reaffirmed US Secretary of State’s position that the US is determined to resolve the tension on the Korean Peninsula through a diplomatic solution and dialogue, according to the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s statement.

Mr Virasakdi underscored the commitment of Thailand to see peace on the Korean Peninsula.

He also reiterated that Thailand has complied with the relevant UNSC resolutions which imposed sanctions on North Korea.  Moreover, Thailand supports the rising call by the international community on North Korea to return to the negotiation process in order to reduce tension and denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, which will lead to sustainable peace and security in the region.

Meanwhile, AFP reported that Mr Yun also met Gen Wanlop Rugsanoah, secretary-general of the National Security Council.

AFP quoted Gen Wanlop as saying that the US special representative urged Thailand to downgrade diplomatic and trade ties with North Korea.

“The US asked Thailand to put more pressure on North Korea, put more trade and diplomatic pressure,” Gen Wanlop told AFP.

On Dec 1, Bangkok issued a statement denouncing the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile test conducted by North Korea on Nov 29 and urging Pyongyang to cease all provocative actions.

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