Bhutanese embassy working with Thai police

Crime: The Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Thailand is providing all necessary support to Thai agencies including the police to verify the allegations against those suspected to be involved in the death of the Bhutanese man in Bangkok, Kuensel has learnt.

The embassy is working closely with authorities and efforts are underway to help the family transport the body back to Bhutan, sources said.

Local authorities are in the process of confirming the alleged involvement of the suspects in the death of a Bhutanese man and drug trafficking.

Kuensel learnt it could take a few weeks before the body can be transported back to Bhutan as the identification process is a lengthy one.

Thai authorities have asked for a DNA sample from a relative of the alleged Bhutanese man found dead in a canal in Bangkok’s Klong Ong Ang district on April 3.

Thai police told Thai media that six Bhutanese are suspected to be involved, giving personal details including photographs.

Recent reports in the Thai media said that the police would push for extradition of the suspects.

The incident made headlines across major news media outlets in Thailand with successive reports almost everyday.

Kuensel learnt Bhutanese are rarely involved in such cases.

In more than 20 years, less than five Bhutanese have been involved in drugs related crimes abroad.

Sources said the first case was one involving a Bhutanese attempting to smuggle cannabis into the United States of America.

Two men and a woman were arrested in Tokyo airport in Japan with 8kg of cannabis resin in 1998.

However, this is the second time in three years that a Bhutanese national is involved in a drug case in Thailand.

Thai police told Thai media that an Indian national was the leader of the group suspected of the crime. The individual named by the Thai police, Kuensel found, was arrested in 2013 in relation to illegal ketamine smuggling into Thailand in which a 26-year-old Bhutanese woman was arrested on September 1.

The Bhutanese woman caught smuggling ketamine into Thailand in 2013 was sentenced to seven years in prison in February 2014. She was found with Nu 30M worth of the controlled substance in her luggage.

The Bhutanese woman caught in Thailand told authorities that an Indian national promised to pay her Thai Baht 5,000 or Nu 10,000 to deliver the parcel, later found to contain the ketamine, to another Indian in Bangkok.

The smuggling incident also led to the detention of three others, including the Indian citizen, by police here in 2014. But with ketamine not a controlled substance in Bhutan, the attorney general had no legal basis to persecute and eventually had to release all suspects.

Meanwhile, the incident has left most people at home in shock.

“It shocked me and my co-workers in office,” a civil servant said.

A corporate employee returning from Korea last week went through an ordeal at the Bangkok airport. A frequent traveller said that usually Bhutanese would not have any problems in disembarking and when going through security checks.

A business woman expressed fears of delays at customs points as Bhutanese could be treated more strictly at security check points.

“Such incidents could put us through unnecessary trouble while undergoing the process,” she said.

Tshering Palden

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