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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        11 January 2011

US drops Laos conspiracy case

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US prosecutors have dropped all remaining charges against 12 defendants accused of plotting to overthrow the communist government of Laos.

The US attorney's office in Sacramento filed a motion to drop the charges "in the interests of justice," according to court documents.

"Based on the totality of the circumstances in the case, the government believes, as a discretionary matter, that continued prosecution of defendants is no longer warranted," said the motion, which was filed in US District Court in Sacramento.

The move follows the death of Hmong leader and Vietnam War-era General Vang Pao, 81, last week. Vang Pao was dropped from the case in 2009. The general led Hmong guerrillas in their CIA-backed battle against communists during the Vietnam War and was revered as a father figure by the Hmong.

A federal judge in November dismissed key parts of the case against the 11 members of the Hmong community and a retired US Army lieutenant colonel. That included the government's charge that the men violated the federal Neutrality Act.

The act prohibits people in the United States from taking part in a military action against the government of another nation with which the US is at peace.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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