Thursday, June 1, 2006

Grisly Find In Thai South Sparks Death Cause Probe.


Thailand's top forensics expert said Wednesday that she is concerned about the cause of death after bodies were found in unmarked graves at a cemetery in the violence-plagued south.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Thailand's top forensics expert said Wednesday that she is concerned about the cause of death after bodies were found in unmarked graves at a cemetery in the violence-plagued south.

That came amid speculation that bodies already unearthed there are among hundreds of suspected Muslim insurgents executed by security forces and buried at the site.

Pornthip Rojanasunand, head of forensics for the Justice Department, said a team of her experts along with rights commissioners will examine graves at a Chinese cemetery in Pattanis province to map out a plan to exhume more than 300 bodies buried there since the end of 2004.

"Many of these [people] died of unnatural causes," she said, "so we need to make a thorough examination." She did not elaborate.

The bodies will be exhumed and moved to the nearby city of Hat Yai, where DNA testing is likely.The victims died in 2004 and 2005, Pornthip said, "but I cannot say if they were linked to the violence in the south."

Unmarked graves were discovered in January, but they have become a focus with Senator Kraisak Choonhavan saying there were more than 500 bodies.

Many were believed to be the bodies of people abducted and killed by state authorities on suspicion of links to the region's Muslim insurgency, he said.

The government has denied the accusation, but rights groups have accused the government of killing suspected insurgents. Muslims have long blamed security forces for disappearances.

More than 1,300 people have been killed since January 2004 when separatist violence re-emerged in three Muslim-majority provinces. [ASSOCIATED PRESS]

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