KRABI: Investigators probing the dynamiting of coral in Koh Lanta National Park thought they had made a breakthrough yesterday when a tip-off led them to two men who, they found, were in possession of explosives.
Questioning revealed, however, that the two suspects had not been involved in the destruction of the Hin Daeng and Hin Muang reefs.
Pol Col Adisak Noypradij of Neuaklong Police Station said, “Yesterday, commanders from the Royal Thai Police in Bangkok came to Krabi to inspect the aftermath of the dynamite fishing at Hin Daeng and Hin Muang.
“Their sources had told them of two men with dynamite who might have been involved in the events at the national park.”
Following up on this information, police arrested two workers at a fish farm in Amphur Nueaklong, after finding 385 grams of TNT and a double-barreled shotgun in their room at the farm.
“Both confessed that they had been using dynamite to catch fish, but not at Hin Daeng or Hin Muang,” Col Adisak said. “They said they did it in the klong near where they live. They said that they had obtained the dynamite from a friend in the army.”
The two were charged with possessing an unregistered gun and using explosives to fish, but are no longer suspects in the reefs case.
Col Adisak explained, “There was no evidence that they carried out the bombing of the reefs because that action would have required a lot of money. It’s big business.”
He outlined just how big: “Officers who went there to investigate said many bombs were used and, each time, about a ton of fish died. The market value of the fish they would have caught per bomb is between 300,000 and 400,000 baht,” he added.
Investigators are also looking into additional bombings in the Hin Daeng-Hin Muang area, reported to Koh Lanta police on December 14 by Suchai Horadee, chief of Koh Lanta National Park.
Pol Capt Nitipong Tongwan of Koh Lanta Police Station said, “We are now trying to find who did that. We have set up a team with Prasit Phuchatwanitkul [the Koh Lanta District Chief] as chairman.
“K. Prasit has already asked for cooperation from the Royal Thai Navy, national park officers and dive operators to help us in this case. But so far we don’t have much information.”
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