General faces US heroin charges

A THAI Army major-general reappeared in Eastern Court yesterday to fight extradition to the United States to face drugs charges.

Thanad Paktipatt, 56, will face six drug-related offences including importing heroin and conspiracy to import heroin to the US.

He was arrested on December 8 at Kai Tak airport when he arrived in Hong Kong from Thailand, allegedly to collect money for a heroin deal said to be worth US$4 million (HK$30.88 million).

Prosecutor Lena Chi submitted 20 cassette tapes and a bundle of exhibits and affidavits from the US Government. The materials were handed over to Senior Detective Inspector Martin Richardson until the hearing day.

Magistrate Fergal Sweeney fixed the extradition hearing for April 25.

Defence lawyer Jonathan Midgley raised no objection to Thanad's remand in custody but said he would submit a written application for bail when necessary.

At a December 9 court hearing, prosecutor Roger McMeans, representing the US Government, said an informant went to Bangkok to negotiate delivery of 400 kilograms of heroin to the US.

The informant was later introduced to Thanad.

After a further discussion, a Thai supplier went to the US in November and a transaction of seven kilograms of heroin was agreed. The money was to be paid to Thanad in Thailand before the drug was delivered, Mr McMeans said.

In December, a further transaction of approximately 42 kg of heroin was discussed, and Thanad allegedly agreed to come to Hong Kong to collect the payment.

However he was stopped at the airport with two empty suitcases. He was prepared to return to Thailand at 6.05 pm the same day.