The Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL, July 3: Life sentence given to four underground militants from Manipur incarcerated at Klongprem Central Prison, Thailand has reportedly been remitted by the Thai government.
A highly reliable source said the four underground militants identified only as Robin, Roben, Ajit and Bangkum are amongst 25,000 prisoners lodged in the country’s jails who were given general amnesty on the occasion of the 60th birth anniversary celebration of the King of Thailand.
All the four underground cadres have been released from Klongprem Jail on June 30, 2006 but they are still lodged in a detention centre, the source added.
In the meantime, Manipur police is reported to have taken up process to bring back all the four underground cadres from Thailand, though the matter has been raised whether in the turbulent situation in Manipur, bringing back the militants would not put their life at risk.
All four of them were arrested by the Royal Thai Navy on March 10, 1997 at sea off Ranong Province in southern Thailand.
After trail at the Ranong Provincial Court, Thailand, all of them were initially awarded double life imprisonment sentences on two seperate counts of carrying of arms, and carrying of explosive substances, apart from a 20 days imprisonment for venturing into Thai territory without possessing valid documents.
The Thai court however reduced their life sentences to 25 years imprisonment each in recognition of their cooperation to the investigating team and for admitting to the charges levelled against them.
The total time that each of the militants had to serve was 50 years and 20 days. The sentences were announced on June 5, 1997.
However, in 1999, 50 years sentence given to them were reduced to 25 years each as amnesty given to prisoners on the occasion of the 72nd birth anniversary celebration of Thai King.
Again, on August 12, 2004, their sentence was reduced to 12 years and six and half months imprisonment each for good behaviour as part of the amnesty announced on the occasion of the 72nd birth anniversary celebration of the Thai Queen.
Apart from Klongprem Central Prison, all the four cadres have been inmates of the Surathani Central Prison, Surathani Province, Nakhorn Srithamarat Central Prison, Nakhorn Srithamarat Province and Bangkwang Maximum Security Prison or Bangkwang Central Prison, Nonthaburi Province, Thailand.