Principal Suspect Denies Masterminding Mekong River Attack
   2012-09-20 15:25:26    Xinhua      Web Editor: Fuyu

Naw Kahm(front, right), the principal suspect for the murders of 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River last year, denied plotting the attack when he and five other suspects went on trial in southwest China for the crime on Thursday, September 20, 2012. [Photo: Sina]

Related: Mekong Murder Trial a Model of Regional Judicial Cooperation

Naw Kham, the principal suspect in the murders of 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River last year, denied plotting the attack on Thursday, when he and five other people went on trial in southwest China for the crime.

However, the five other defendants on trial all testified in court that Naw Kham was the gang's ringleader who masterminded the attack.

The trial of the six suspects started at 9:35 a.m. at the Intermediate People's Court of Kunming City, provincial capital of Yunnan.

During the trial, Naw Kham, the head of an armed drug gang from Myanmar, claimed he neither planned nor commanded the deadly attack in October 2011.

Naw Kham, who had confessed to the murders in an arranged interview with media before the trial, made a U-turn in court, saying he was not fully informed about the attack by his fellow ring members.

"I did not know about it at that time," he told the court. "They did not tell me. I was only informed afterward."

Naw Kham did admit that he was the gang's ringleader, saying every member called him "the boss."

One witness at the court said Naw Kham, dubbed the "Godfather" for running one of the most notorious armed drug rings on the section of the Mekong River near the China-Myanmar-Laos borders, maintained an unperturbed smile during the morning's proceedings.

The six defendants -- five from Myanmar, Thailand and Laos and one stateless -- have been charged with intentional homicide, drug trafficking, kidnapping and ship hijacking.

All of the six accused appeared before the court on Thursday. The trial is expected to last for three days.

According to the bill of indictment presented by prosecutors, between the end of September and the beginning of October in 2011, Naw Kham and his subordinates, with the support of a small number of Thai soldiers, planned to hijack Chinese cargo ships and kill the sailors aboard.

The gang had long been angry at Chinese vessels' refusing to pay them "protection fees" while traveling on the river, Naw Kham had previously told police investigators.

Also, the Chinese vessels were allegedly hired by Myanmar soldiers to help raid Naw Kham's ring, prompting the revenge attack.

Under the instruction of Naw Kham, five of his men attacked, hijacked and took control of the sailors on two cargo ships, the Hua Ping and Yu Xing 8, and planted drugs on the vessels on Oct. 5, 2011, near a port in Thailand on the Mekong River, prosecutors said.

According to the prosecution, a large amount of evidence, including DNA test results, autopsy reports and witness testimonies, will be produced before the court during the trial.

Present Thursday at the court were relatives of the 13 Chinese victims, embassy personnel of the related countries, Chinese legislators, political advisors, experts and representatives of local residents and media.

All six defendants answered questions raised by the chief justice, judges, prosecutors, victims' relatives and lawyers, respectively, aided by translators invited by the court.

The crime ring was busted earlier this year in a joint operation by police from China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand after the brutal murders of Chinese sailors triggered an outcry in China last year.

Naw Kham was sent to China via a chartered plane in May.

"It is uncommon in China's judicial practice for foreigners who commit crimes against Chinese nationals outside China to be brought to justice before a Chinese court," Dong Lin, vice president of the Intermediate People's Court of Kunming City, told media before the trial.

Li Ruokun, deputy procurator of the Yunnan Provincial People's Procuratorate, said the trial showed China's resolution to severely punish cross-border crimes and to protect the legitimate rights of its citizens.

Li said the suspects' rights were fully respected.

Lin Li, Naw Kham's lawyer, said her rights to meet the defendant and access his criminal files were guaranteed.

With a length of almost 5,000 km, the Mekong River, known in China as the Lancang River, is one of the most important waterways in Southeast Asia, linking the countries of China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It plays a crucial economic role among the Greater Mekong Sub-region countries.

1  2  3  

            claims the copyright of all material and information produced originally by our staff. All rights reserved. Reproduction of text for non-commercial purposes only is permitted provided that both the source and author are acknowledged and a notifying email is sent to us. holds neither liability nor responsibility for materials attributed to any other source. Such information is provided as reportage and dissemination of information but does not necessarily reflect the opinion of or endorsement by CRI.


Media Scan
Printing Graduate Papers Costs 70,000 Trees a Year in China
Excessive printing of each graduate's thesis paper during the matriculation season is putting enormous pressure on the country's forest resources. The newspaper said a student has to print seven copies of their thesis on average.
Supervisors Hired to Monitor University Recruitment
Renmin University of China has recruited 10 supervisors to monitor undergraduate enrollment this year.
• C4: Looking at Porn
Join us for the latest episode of CRI's hilarious comedy news show.
• Reel China: The Great Hyponotist
Join us this week for a look at Chinese phychological thriller, "The Great Hypnotist".
In Depth

• China
China News
Chinese Press
• World
Middle East
• Video
Culture Heritage
Beyond Stardom
Dynamic China

Life 360
Panoramic Sports
• Radio
Ways to Listen
• Business
Editor's Choice
Biz Photo
Special Coverage
• Travel
Editor's Pick
What's in
On the Road
• Showbiz
Chinese Films
Music & Stage
Art & Literature
Photo Gallery
Special Coverage
• Language Learning
Ask Pingping and Jules
Chinese Studio
Elementary Chinese
Pop Charts
English News
English Snippets