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Thai leader wary of ‘damage’ from Mekong movie

A promotional image from Operation Mekong, a Hong Kong-Chinese action movie about the murder of Chinese sailors on the Mekong River in October 2011. (Photo: Filmsmash.com)

A Hong Kong-Chinese action film re-enacting the murder of 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River in 2011 by a notorious drug kingpin from Burma will be banned from being screened in Thailand if it is found to “damage” the country, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday.

“I have ordered authorities to check the content of Operation Mekong. If it is damaging, it will be banned,” General Prayut said.

The film, directed by Dante Lam and due to open on Friday in Hong Kong, concerns the massacre in the Golden Triangle area of the river on 5 October 2011 when 13 Chinese crew members from two cargo ships were brutally killed by a Burmese drug-trafficking ring.

Their bodies were found blindfolded, handcuffed and dumped in the river off the town of Chiang Saen in Thailand’s Chiang Rai Province.

With the help of Thai and Lao authorities, Chinese police brought the prime suspect from Burma, Naw Kham, to justice, along with his accomplices.

Naw Kham, an alleged drug kingpin in the Golden Triangle, and his gang were found guilty of attacking the two Chinese cargo ships in collusion with Thai soldiers in the Chiang Rai section of the river, after kidnapping other Chinese sailors and holding their ships for ransom earlier the same year, the court said.

During his trial, Naw Kham blamed Thai soldiers for the murders. He later pleaded guilty to the charges, before changing his plea again at the appeal hearing, Chinese state media reports said.

He was executed in March 2013 in China along with three accomplices, including a Thai national, for murder.

The executions were carried out by lethal injection by a court in Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province.