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Myanmar lorry survivors jailed
Thai court jails surviving migrant workers after 54 die while being smuggled in.
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2008 01:53 GMT

Fifty-four migrant  workers died of suffocation while being smuggled into Thailand 

The survivors of a people-smuggling accident which left 54 illegal migrants from Myanmar dead have been sentenced to three days in jail by a court in Thailand.
 
A Thai court convicted them of illegal entry on Friday.
The 50 defendants were part of a group of 120 migrants packed at the back of a freezer lorry as they fled economic collapse in hope of finding work on the Thai resort island of Phuket.
Fourteen children have already been handed over to immigration authorities for repatriation, after surviving the deadly trip across the Thai border in the airtight seafood container.
 

Two other survivors are being treated in hospital for dehydration and lack of oxygen.

 

The deaths shocked Thailand and sparked calls for tougher measures to protect the thousands of desperate people who come to the kingdom in search of jobs.

 

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Myanmar migrants face deportation

The court in the southern province of Ranong, where the migrants were abandoned on a roadside with the dead, gave them a two-month suspended sentence and a $31 fine for illegal entry.

 

Since they had no money, they were sentenced to three days in jail, a court official said.

 

Children separated

 

Dave Mathieson, a researcher with the Human Rights Watch, said the decision to separate the survivors from their children and then prosecute them was "depressingly standard".

 

"It certainly goes against the shock and outrage that you see around the world, that something like this can happen," he said.

 

Police are still hunting for Suchon Boonplong, 38, the driver of the lorry carrying the fatal container, which he left open on a roadside after discovering the deaths.

 

A $1,500 reward is on offer for information leading to his arrest.

Source:
Agencies
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