The government will take measures to help 92 jailed Thais who have been found guilty by a Myanmar court of illegal entry and encroachment on Myanmar territory, Foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said a court in Myanmar’s Kawthuang township, opposite Ranong province, sentenced the Thais on Monday to three years and six months in prison for illegal entry and encroachment on forest land.
Some of the suspects will be investigated further for alleged possession of drugs and war weapons.
Surapong said yesterday the ministry will consider steps to help them.
He said the possibility of asking Myanmar President Thein Sein for a pardon had not yet been discussed.
Surapong said he had directed the Thai embassy in Yangon to ensure the detained Thais are treated properly.
Thani said the embassy was trying to seek permission from the Myanmar government to visit the detainees.
He said all 92 have the right to appeal against the sentences.
Defence minister Sukumpol Suwanatat said it is now up to Myanmar to think about how to help the detainees.
Thein Sein stressed that the case must follow proper procedures under Myanmar law, ACM Sukumpol said.
The 92 Thais were arrested earlier this month on suspicion of illegally encroaching on land in Myanmar opposite Ranong’s Kra Buri district.
Thai officials said the suspects had been duped into buying land in Myanmar by a Thai gang.
They were allegedly cutting down trees and clearing an area to plant rubber trees in Myanmar, officials said, adding that some villagers had also planted marijuana plants and amassed firearms.
Col Pornsak Poonsawat, chair of the local Thai-Myanmar Border Committee, said the Kawthuang court would forward its ruling to the Myanmar government for consideration.
He hoped the Myanmar government would consider granting the Thais clemency and reduce their jail sentences.
Thein Sein assured prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra during their recent meeting in Phnom Penh that his government would treat the arrested Thais fairly.