World Bulletin / News Desk
The Nation reported that a court in southern Nakorn Si Thammarat province convicted Sunon, or Ko Mit Saengthong, and fined him 200,000 baht ($5,780) Wednesday but dismissed his alleged links to a trans-national crime syndicate.
He had been charged with human trafficking, enslavement and bringing “aliens” into Thailand alongside two other suspects after police intercepted a convoy of five pick-up trucks in the province Jan. 11 last year. The drivers of three of the vehicles had fled the site.
Police had described the 98 Rohingya -- including 26 women and 42 minors aged under 15 -- stacked at the back of the vehicles as in an "extreme state of weakness".
A Rohingya woman died of exhaustion shortly after the operation.
On Wednesday, the court also convicted two others on a lesser charge of collaborating in and abetting the trafficking persons, sentencing Suriya Yodrak and Warachai Chadathong to one-year and six-month terms, respectively.
Since 2012, Rohingya have been fleeing Myanmar in droves, terrified of violence that some human rights groups consider to be state sponsored.
Over the years, many of the Rohingya -- who seek to travel to majority Muslim Malaysia -- had been kept in jungle camps in southern Thailand by human traffickers who then demanded ransoms from their families.
In May 2015, dozens of bodies were discovered in graves along Thailand’s border with Malaysia, prompting Thailand’s military government, which seized power in a coup in May 2014, to launch a large-scale campaign against human trafficking.