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Saturday, 8 October 2011

Sansern says Chuvit's rice smuggling videos [from Cambodia to Thailand] old news

Writer: Wassana Nanuam
Position: Reporter
Published: 8/10/2011
Bangkok Post

Videos showing rice being smuggled into Thailand from Cambodia shown in parliament on Thursday by Rak Thailand Party leader Chuvit Kamolvisit are old footage, says army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

Col Sansern made the statement yesterday in response to Mr Chuvit's claim that his two clips provided proof of rice smuggling from Cambodia via Sa Kaeo province.

The clips were screened in parliament during an interpellation session on the government's rice mortgage scheme, which kicked off yesterday.

He claimed that one clip showed rice smuggling from Cambodia via Khlong Nam Sai in Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet district.

The other video featured workers carrying sacks of rice across bridges along the border after being transported on a 20-wheel trailer.

Mr Chuvit said the rice was purchased at 8,000 baht a tonne and the smugglers planned to sell it for 15,000 baht a tonne under the government's rice mortgage scheme.

Col Sansern said the activity took place in an area under the jurisdiction of the Burapha Task Force and it happened in July or earlier as evidenced by the dry and cracked surface of the land shown in the footage.

The same area is now stricken by floods.

Col Sansern said the army had stressed the need for soldiers in the area to work with state agencies to crack down on the smuggling of rice from Cambodia via Sa Kaeo.

However, Col Sansern admitted three military officers attached to the Burapha Task Force had been punished for a security lapse that allowed rice smugglers to slip back and forth across the Thai border. The officers' names were withheld.

Col Sansern said the officers have been moved out of the area, transferred to inactive posts and their salaries slashed.

They may also face criminal proceedings.

"The incident did take place and action taken against the officers, more than three months before [Mr Chuvit's] clips were released," Col Sansern said.

Col Sansern brushed aside suggestions the release of the clips by Mr Chuvit was aimed at discrediting the army or was intended to have some military officers transferred.

An army source said the three officers shifted belonged to the 13th Rangers Regiment under the Burapha Task Force.

They have been transferred to inactive posts and have lodged a complaint accusing their superiors of treating them unfairly.

It is expected the three might have given the clips to Mr Chuvit for exposure to help their case against the army, the source said.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung yesterday said he had asked Defence Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa, through Gen Jongsak Panichkul, the minister's adviser, to look into the matter.

Mr Chalerm said he will also meet Mr Chuvit to ask for further information on the rice smuggling issue, and will update Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

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