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ျမန္မာစာမ်က္ႏွာ | Myanmar Peace Monitor
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Karen boy sentenced to 25 years for "carrying" drugs

"I came for work in Thailand now I am living in prison," said a Karen boy, Than Soe, who was sentenced to 25 years in jail after the Thai police found 1,800 amphetamine tablets in his jacket.
"I came for work in Thailand now I am living in prison," said a Karen boy, Than Soe, who was sentenced to 25 years in jail after the Thai police found 1,800 amphetamine tablets in his jacket.

Than Soe was sentenced last October in the Thong Pha Phum's court, in Kanchanaburi. He and seven other people were arrested while they were traveling illegally by truck in Thailand in Jai Oil village, where Thai multi army check point is based on the way from Sangkalaburi and Kanchanaburi.

It was his first trip for work in Thailand and he can't even speak the Thai language. He was accused of smuggling drugs into Thailand by the Thai police.

Eight people left from Three Pagoda Pass at about 3 am and walked for one and half hours until they reached the motor road where two Thai truck owners were waiting for them. All of them got on the truck and their back packs were kept in the front of the truck with the driver, he explained.

"When the army stopped us at the check point, they asked if the jacket was mine and I said yes. The truck driver may have hidden the tablets in my jacket, because if the tablets were mine, I wouldn't have said it was my jacket when the police asked me," he explained to the court. Also in court, they had a medical test to check whether Than Soe used drugs in his past and they found the test negative.

He attended the court seven times, and he was thinking of whether he would plead innocent or guilty on his final day. He can't speak Thai, he only can speak Karen and a little bit of Burmese. He was worried that if he does not admit his guilt they would investigate him more rigoursly, and if they still find him guilty, he will have to serve a double sentence of 50 years.

He doesn't have relatives or his own lawyer. After he said he was guilty, the court provided him a lawyer, and gave him one month to think his decision over. After one month, Than Soe still said he was guilty, because he was afraid of the double sentence.

The court sentenced him to 25 years and he cried for two nights. According to sources in prison, this is how the Thai agents who bring illegal migrants into Thailand carry out drug smuggling. They smuggle migrants with drugs and then the migrant, not the agent, gets blamed for carrying drugs.

Apit, a 32 year old Thai worker agent who was a prisoner at Thong Pha Phum told of his experience. He used to bring amphetamines, about 4,000 tablets, and he would throw them into the bush, while the police arrested migrant workers that he brought on his trucks.

The two Thai agent workers who were arrested with Than Soe persuaded him to admit his guilt and promised him they would pay 20,000 baht if he admitted to being guilty. But, the two people didn't offer him money after he pleaded guilty.

Than Soe is only 17 years old but the police wrote he was 19 years old. He has a child and wife who live in Karen State. His real name is Maung Taung. He is from Ma Yen Taung village, in Kyainnseikyi Township . His family didn't know until today he was arrested. "I lost my family and my life. My wife doesn't know that I have been sentenced for 25 years. His majesty sentenced me 25 years, like it was a sentence for 25 days, but for me this is a long time, my entire life" he rued.