Tue, 08 Mar 2005

From: Reuters

Three generals fired over Muslim deaths

THAILAND: Three Thai generals have been removed from their jobs following the deaths of 78 Muslims in army custody last year but will face no further disciplinary action, army chief Gen. Pravit Wongsuwan said on Monday.

Lt. Gen. Pisan Wattanawongkiri, commander of the army in the south, his deputy Maj. Gen. Sinchai Nutsathit and Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Chalermchai Wirunpeth would be moved to advisory positions, Pravit told reporters.

"There is no disciplinary penalty for the ranks of general and no disciplinary punishment is being meted out," Pravit said.

"Punishment through dismissal is already regarded as the most severe. All the three have carried out their jobs faithfully, but they still need to be held accountable."

A government appointed panel blamed the three generals for mismanaging the break up of a Muslim protest last October in the southern town of Tak Bai district against the arrest of village militiamen accused of handing over weapons to Muslim separatists.

Seven people were killed when soldiers and police opened fire on the protest, which they said had threatened to become a riot.

The security forces detained hundreds of demonstrators and 78 died of suffocation or were crushed to death in army trucks during a long journey to an army base. --Reuters