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Thais arrest alleged arms dealer wanted in India

August 31, 2013

BANGKOK (AP) — Police in Thailand have arrested a Thai man wanted in India for alleged involvement in international arms deals with an Indian insurgent group worth nearly $2 million, authorities said Saturday.

Wuthikorn Naruenartwanich, also known as Willy, was arrested Friday at his home in Bangkok, said Police Col. Charoen Sisasalak. Willy, 57, is accused of buying weapons, including nearly 1,000 rifles and an unspecified number of rocket-propelled grenades, to be sold to Naga rebels in northeastern India, Charoen said.

During initial questioning, Willy told police that he was a restaurant owner in Bangkok and denied any involvement in arms deals, Charoen said.

Prosecutors next week will try to convince a judge to send Willy to India, where he’s being tried in absentia.

India’s National Investigation Agency charged Willy and three others in 2011 with criminal conspiracy to wage a war against the Indian government. If convicted, he could face the death penalty or life imprisonment.

The Nagas are a conglomeration of several tribes inhabiting parts of northeast India and northwest Myanmar. The Naga rebels have been operating one of India’s longest-running insurgencies, fighting for more than 50 years, though a cease-fire with the government has held since it was signed in 1997.

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