Thai police crack down on passport fakes
BANGKOK: Suspects arrested in Spain and Thailand in connection with an international ring that provided forged passports to terrorists may have passed fake documents to the perpetrators of the 2004 Madrid bombings, Thai authorities said Thursday. The arrests of seven people in Spain and three in Thailand this week represent a major achievement in dismantling one of the world's most notorious forgery rings - one known for its skill in providing fake documents to criminal and terror enterprises - said Jaime Fa, a police attache at the Spanish Embassy in Bangkok.
At a press conference in Bangkok, Thai Pol. Col. Naratch Sawetanant of the Department of Special Investigation said Spanish police have evidence that some of the suspects arrested this week provided fake identification documents to the Muslim militants blamed in the bombing attack six years ago on Madrid's commuter trains. Some 191 people were killed and more than 1,800 wounded when 10shrapnel filled bombs ripped through the Spanish capital's commuter trains during rush hour on March 11, 2004. M Athar, 39, and Zeeshan Ehsan Butt, 27, both of Pakistan; and Sirikanya Kitbamrung, 25, of Thailand were arrested at a checkpoint on Nov. 30 while trying to enter Laos. They face possible charges of allegedly receiving stolen passports from networks in Spain and elsewhere in Europe via regular mail and then altering the passports for clients, said Naratch. Police found items used to produce fake documents such as passports, entry-exit stamps, and visa stickers during a raid of the trio's Bangkok apartment on Wednesday, Naratch said. -Ap