First Reports - Wednesday 13 August 08
PHUKET: A man piloting a luxury yacht has been arrested by Phuket Marine Police officers after several guns and ammunition were found stashed on the boat he was operating.
The arrest came after Thalang district volunteer police noticed people getting off the multi-level vessel carrying guns and informed police.
When Marine Police boarded the Thai registered yacht "Meditation" at Phuket Marine Customs Pier at Ao Makham, they discovered a high-powered rifle with telescopic sights, an automatic pistol, a sub-machine gun and several cases of bullets, including about one hundred M16 rounds, 233 rounds of 11 mm bullets and 180 rounds of 9 mm bullets.
During their search of the vessel, police also discovered a receipt from Kathu Shooting Range for the purchase of 9mm bullets and a collection of paper targets. They did not, however, find any documents pertaining to ownership or registration of the weapons.
Yacht operator Permsin Petsawas, 46, was questioned by police. He denied having anything to do with the weapons, telling police they belonged to a friend of the yacht owner, whose name police would not reveal.
Police charged the suspect with possession of war weapons and ammunition without a license and will investigate his claims. Permsin was also charged for operating the boat without a valid captain’s license and registration certificate.
Meditation is a Thai-made boat with four decks. It measures 37 meters in length and according to police was being used as a charter vessel. Investigating Marine Police officer Deputy Superintendent Pol Lt Col Prasert Srikunrat said the yacht’s owner is French national Pascal Wu, who has already presented himself to police.
“However, we must first investigate Preecha’s claim that the weapons belong to a third party and confirm whether or not that person is legally entitled to possess the weapons,” he said.