A Cambodian Muslim accused of forging border passes was arrested after crossing through the Poipet border checkpoint Saturday and is expected to appear at Banteay Meanchey provincial court today, officials said.
The man was allegedly producing fake border passes for Cambodians planning to seek employment in Malaysia, said Pich Saran, director of immigration police at the Poipet checkpoint.
The suspect was arrested by Thai police, who handed him over to Cambodian police, Pich Saran said, adding that the suspect had been selling real passes that people could buy and put their own photos in. “Some border passes were fake because the pictures were changed,” he said.
“When some people living in O’Chrou [district] got the passes they changed new pictures of someone else so that they could get to Thailand.”
Thai Police Lieutenant General Subin Boonlek, deputy superintendent of Klong Leuk police station in Aranyaprathet district, Trat province identified the suspect to The Nation newspaper in Thailand as Hamas Rumree.
He said he would investigate any links to Islamic separatists in Thailand’s south that have intensified their hit-and-run attacks on government officials and offices in recent months, The Nation reported.
The president of the Cambodian Islamic Association voiced exasperation that Thai authorities were again alleging a link between ethnic Chams and the bloody insurgency in southern Thailand.
“Our Muslims here want a peaceful and beautiful world. We don’t like terrorism or want to destroy anything,” said Vann Math, the head of the association. “We never agree with Thai officials when they say this. We are not involved.”
Bun Hor, a senior official at the Poipet checkpoint, said he was not aware of the arrest, but he said Cambodian Chams regularly cross the Thai border, traveling to find work in Malaysia.