Four Thais sentenced over Burmese migrant deaths in 2008

Four people smugglers were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison by a Thai court on Thursday over a 2008 incident when 54 migrant workers from Burma suffocated to death inside a seafood container,Agence France-Presse (AFP) has reported.


The four Thais were convicted of gross negligence resulting in death and of breaking immigration laws, an official from a court in the country’s southern Ranong province told AFP.

The 54 victims were among 121 people crammed into the 6 x 2 m container which reportedly had a broken ventilation system. The migrants were being transported to Phuket in southern Thailand to work as day laborers.

The owner of the container truck was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a second defendant received nine years and a third—who owned a jetty in southern Thailand where the migrants arrived by boat—was jailed for six years, the report said.

A woman defendant had her sentence halved to three years after confessing, the official said.

The truck driver, who fled the scene after discovering the tragedy, was jailed for six years in August 2008 having admitted to his role in the crime, the official added.

Survivors have recounted desperately trying to raise the alarm as they fought for breath in the storage box.

“No matter how many times we hit the container the driver did not pay any attention,” one female migrant who was on board told Thai television.


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