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Southern Thai Rebel Surrenders, Talks About Life on the Run

Malay-Muslim men in southern Thailand

Malay-Muslim men in southern Thailand. Image: udeyismail.

A man accused of leading an insurgent squad in Thailand’s Deep South for 12 years said he was tired of hiding out from the authorities, after he gave up and turned himself in this week.

Following his surrender at a police station in his home province of Yala, Sakariya Waegaji, 33, said he was prepared to fight charges of arson and possession of weapons, for which he was wanted in two arrest warrants.

Sakariya led a squad belonging to Runda Kumpalan Kecil (RKK), a combat unit of Barisan Revolusi National (BRN), the largest and most heavily armed of separatist groups that are fighting Thai security forces in the predominantly Muslim and Malay-speaking Deep South.

“I have to hide all the time since the authorities issued an arrest warrant on me. … Officials were always looking for me, so I fled from my neighborhood and stayed with my friends,” Sakariya told reporters at Yala police station after he surrendered on Tuesday.

“It had been a hardship, I was starving, so my family members consulted with each other and they agreed to contact the headman of Tambon Laba to inform the police,” he said, referring to the name of a village cluster.

On Thursday, the police officer who handled Sakariya’s surrender said the suspect had been bailed out, but that he would stand trial in the criminal cases.

“We proceed with him according to two arrest warrants. He broke criminal codes but we are open for him to find evidence to refute the accusation,” acting Yala provincial police bureau commander Col. Krisda Kaewchandee told BenarNews by phone.

“We will seek an opinion from the attorney general to determine when the cases should proceed. He was cooperative with officials so we gave him some time to prepare for next bail request,” he said.

According to police in Sakariya’s hometown in the mountains of Yala’s Kabang district, he was staying with relatives there.

Full story: BenarNews

BenarNews staff
Yala, Thailand

Copyright ©2016, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.