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The Syria Six have been held for 54 days in Phuket airport

Phuket Airport Prisoner Says Fake Passport Fliers Were 'Probably Syrians'

Monday, March 10, 2014
PHUKET: A traveller caught using a fake passport told Phuketwan today that the men who posed as an Italian and an Austrian on lost flight MH370 were ''probably Syrians.''

The traveller is one of six young men from Syria and Lebanon who have now been detained in the ''Hospitality'' section at Phuket International Airport for 54 days after their plan to find sanctuary in Sweden went wrong.

The six were arrested by Chinese authorities in Beijing as they attempted to transit to Stockholm and put back on a plane for Phuket, from where their flight originated.

''M,'' at 20 the youngest of the six Phuket detainees and the only one who speaks English, said today: ''So many people are trying to flee Syria that it's highly likely these two men were from Syria. Everybody wants to get out.''

He and his five companions aimed to follow others who had succeeded in taking the escape trail from Thailand via Beijing to Europe but after purchasing six fake Greek passports, their plans went wrong in China.

Beijing was the transit destination for the two men who were impersonating Italian Luigi Maraldi, 37, and Austrian Chritian Kozel, 30, and they appear to have died using those false identities.

''Syria is so bad right now that people are willing to take all kinds of risks to escape,'' said ''M.'' who finds detention at Phuket airport difficult but nothing compared to the hardship of surviving in Damascus, where his family still lives.

He says there is hope for the six, who are all well-educated young men.

''It is difficult living without fresh air for so long,'' he said. ''In many ways, being trapped here is worse than jail because we get no sunshine. But anything is better than the reality of life in Syria.''

Representatives of the UN's UNHCR refugee body met the six for the second time last weekend and are actively seeking a country for resettlement.

But ''M'' continues to complain about the lack of food, heating and general conditions inside their Phuket airport quarters, where occasionally the six are joined by others who come and go quite quickly by comparison.

''We get one real meal a day and live on noodles the rest of the time,'' he said. ''We are constantly hungry. But the UN people gave us hope and they also brought blankets, tea and coffee.''

Conditions inside Syria were ''very devastating'' with the deflation of the currency meaning that people were able to purchase less at US dollar values to sustain life.

''Nobody understands how bad it is to live in Syria right now. We left for so many reasons. The country has simply collapsed, economically, materially and politically.''

He believes hundreds of others will take their chances and buy fake passports if the opportunity arises.

There has been no sign so far of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 or the 239 people who vanished with the aircraft between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.

Comments

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Great report Mr. Morison.

Posted by Anonymous on March 11, 2014 05:42

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Based on the CCTV footage at KUL it's been reported the men had Asian facial features.

I don't know the ethnic demographics of Syria but I wager not many are of Asian origin.

Posted by ThaiMike on March 11, 2014 08:27

Editor Comment:

The ''Asian facial features'' line has been recanted long ago. You're a bit behind, ThaiMike. Please catch up. Now they're ''Iranians.''

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Yet another version is that the person who bought the tickets is Iranian called Kazem Ali.

What seems to be actual verifiable process in the case is a debris field found about 80nm southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, about 50nm off the south-eastern coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea by a Cathay Pacific flight from HKG to KUL.

It's reported that Vietnamese Maritime SAR vessels are en route to verify this.

Posted by ThaiMike on March 11, 2014 08:59

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Even if it isn't the priority at this stage, why nobody is saying or writing a word about six people flying from Phuket with fake/stolen passports, discovered hours later from chinese authority and sent back?
Exactly like in KL , in Thailand doesn't exist Interpol data check?

Posted by tom on March 11, 2014 09:59

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Sadly many countries do not use the Interpol Data Base of Stolen/Lost passports.
Maybe that will change after this tragedy

Posted by Arthur on March 11, 2014 15:05

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I Bought my original Canadian passport and drivers licences from [email address removed] I real comment you .

Posted by Sanders Billy on February 12, 2015 23:40


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