Thailand OKs Extradition of Suspect in Arms Deal With Naga Rebels

Thailand OKs Extradition of Suspect in Arms Deal With Naga Rebels

India, Thailand, Myanmar, arms trade, Naga rebels, ethnic issue, conflict

Naga tribesmen stand in line at their New Year festival in 2012. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

BANGKOK — A Thai court on Monday approved the extradition to India of a Thai man suspected of helping to sell nearly US$2 million of arms to an insurgent group.

India’s National Investigation Agency charged Wuthikorn Naruenartwanich and three others in 2011 with criminal conspiracy to wage war against the Indian government. It said they sold arms to Naga rebels who have been fighting the central government for more than 50 years, despite a 1997 a cease-fire. The Nagas consist of several tribes inhabiting parts of northeastern India and northwestern Burma.

Indian authorities accused Wuthikorn of buying weapons, including nearly 1,000 rifles and an unspecified number of rocket-propelled grenades, for resale to the rebels.

A Bangkok Criminal Court said it approved the extradition because prosecutors presented sufficient evidence that Wuthikorn is the same person wanted by India.

He was arrested in Bangkok last August. If convicted, he could face a possible death penalty. During initial questioning, Wuthikorn told police that he was a restaurant owner in Bangkok and denied any involvement in arms deals.

Thailand and India signed an extradition treaty last May after about 20 years of negotiations. Wuthikorn’s case is believed to be the first allowed under the treaty.


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