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A former doctor at a Thai police general hospital, who is facing the death sentence for the murder of a Burmese migrant worker, was deported from Burma to Thailand yesterday, six months after he fled his arrest and crossed the border.
Burmese police detained Supat Laohawattana for illegal entry and possession of a fake Burmese ID card before he was extradited this week.
Dr Supat, who was found guilty of murder in May 2015 by the Phetchaburi provincial court, was taken from Moulmein to the border town of Myawaddy, opposite Mae Sot district in Thailand’s Tak province, and handed over to Thai immigration authorities amid tight security.
The Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge and the Mae Sot checkpoint were briefly closed to facilitate the handover of the fugitive witnessed by dozens of local residents on both sides of the border.
Deputy national police chief Gen Thammasak Vicharaya travelled to the border province to escort Dr Supat to Phetchaburi where the provincial court issued a warrant for his arrest.
After the deportation, Dr Supat underwent a physical check-up at the immigration checkpoint. Doctors from Mae Sot Hospital examined him and found him to be in good health.
He was later whisked away in a van under tight security to Mae Sot airport where he boarded a police plane to Phetchaburi.
Dr Supat was initially arrested in connection with the disappearance of a Thai couple, Samart Noomjui and his wife Orasa Kerdsap, who were reported missing in June 2009 while working in his orchard in Phetchaburi’s Tha Yang district.
As the investigation progressed, police stumbled upon evidence implicating the doctor in the murder of a Burmese worker. He was subsequently charged with premeditated murder in the death of the worker, and human trafficking.
The Phetchaburi Provincial Court handed down the death sentence to Dr Supat and his elder son, Ake, for killing the Burmese worker. His youngest son, Akkara, was sentenced to 25 years and three months in prison for complicity in the murder.
When the sentence was handed down, his sons were in court but Dr Supat was believed to have fled to Cambodia. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
The provincial court also approved another arrest warrant in January last year when he failed to attend a Supreme Court ruling in a case in which he was charged with violating human trafficking laws and employing migrant workers. He was arrested in Burma in December.
This article was originally published in the Bangkok Post on 26 May 2017.