The US government announced it had returned two stolen ancient sandstone lintels dating from the ninth and tenth centuries to Thailand after retrieving them from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.
The objects had been on display at the museum since it opened in 1996.
The transfer of the hand-carved objects, created during the Khmer era and apparently stolen in the late 1960s and then donated to the city of San Francisco, followed a three-year investigation that involved US Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) officials in Bangkok and San Francisco as well as a prosecution drive by the US attorney for the Northern District of California. An agreement for their return was reached last year.
The Los Angeles Times has reported that both lintels came from temples that Thailand had registered in the mid-1930s as national ancient monuments, and the Bangkok Post identified the sites as the Prasat Khao Lon historical sanctuary in Sa Kaeo and the Prasat Nong Hong in Buri Ram. The Post said that each lintel weighed around 680kg, and that the objects were expected to arrive in Thailand by air today and go on display soon at the Bangkok National Museum near the Grand Palace.
The turnover to Thai consular officials was overseen by the city of San Francisco, which has operated the Asian Art Museum since it opened, but the repatriation ceremony took place in Los Angeles.
“I wish the story of the Thai lintels will help raise awareness to prevent removal of historic, religious and cultural treasures from their original sites, in local communities,” said Manasvi Srisodapol, Thailand’s ambassador to the United States, in a statement.
Global law enforcement officials have aggressively expanded the fight against the theft of antiquities integral to cultural heritage and illicit trafficking, with dozens of governments working in tandem with one another.
Chemical Engineer Caught Running ‘E’ And Meth Lab In Nonthaburi
A chemical engineer who turned to producing Ecstacy pills and crystal meth at his condo in Nonthaburi was arrested this morning by officers from the Narcotics Suppression Bureau.
The Saturday morning raid on a building in Bang Kruai District, Nonthaburi was led by Police General Manu Makemok, Deputy Commissioner General, Royal Thai Police and Police Lieutenant General Montree Yimyaem, commissioner of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau.
Inside the apartment, the prime suspect, 42-year-old suspect Patiwet “Heisenberg” Suwankiri was apprehended.
Drug production equipment and chemical precursors were seized along with 20,000 Ecstacy tablets and 50 grams of crystal meth.
Police General Manu said that the Narcotics Suppression Bureau got a tip that there was a group of pill producers who sold E tablets to entertainment venues in Bangkok.
A surveillance operation was set up and pinpointed Prayoon Thapinna as the dealer. He was taken in for questioning and soon after he folded like a deckchair telling cops who “Heisenberg” was.
During questioning “Heisenberg” was evasive saying he sold the drugs to tourists and that he imported the chemical precursors from online dealers.
Police dismissed both explanations as tourism in Thailand is virtually non-existent due to Covid-19 and the chemicals and tools needed to produce the E and meth have been on a banned list for many years.
He did admit to producing the drugs in his apartment saying he used the knowledge from when he studied chemical engineering
Investigators are working to find more people involved in the operation as the set-up was capable of producing around 3,000 tablets per day.
Photo Credit: 77kaoded
CCSA Overturn BMA Order To Reopen Parks, Other Businesses
The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration has overturned the plan by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to allow five types of businesses and venues, including public parks and beauty salons, to open June 1.
Following the BMA Communicable Disease Committee meeting on Monday it was announceed that restrictions on traditional Thai massage parlours, museums, public parks, botanical gardens, learning centres, spas, nail and beauty salons and tattoo parlours would be lifted.
The news was welcomed by many with business owners getting to work in preperation for the sudden rreopening.
Then came the infamous flip-flop by the government when it was reported the CCSA had put the plan on hold for at least a further 14 days.
No reason was given for the sudden change.
Public Parks In Bangkok Reopening Jun 1
This order was later overturned by the CCSA and the plan has been put on hold for at least a further 14 days.
Following a meeting of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration Communicable Disease Committee today, it has been announced that public parks in the capital can reopen from June 1.
The committee, chaired by Governor Aswin, also lifted restrictions on traditional Thai massage parlours, museums, botanical gardens, learning centres, spas, nail and beauty salons and tattoo parlours.
Other establishments currently shuttered are to remain closed until at least June 14, 2021.
The news comes despite the capital reporting over 1,300 Covid-cases on Monday, however, the current crop of clusters are in migrant worker camps and wet markets.
While most welcomed the news that parks will reopen allowing outdoor exercise again, dozens in the expat community continued to grumble that gyms and fitness centres will remain closed.