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Israeli found with bullet magazines in suitcase sentenced to 18 months in Thai jail

Former Border Police officer Gal Shmuel Farjun says he left the bullets in his bag by accident; Foreign Ministry had hoped he’d be deported rather than imprisoned

A security person patrols at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Friday, July 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
A security person patrols at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Friday, July 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

A Thai court on Friday handed down an 18-month jail sentence to a former Israeli Border Police officer who was arrested in October at the Phuket airport with two bullet magazines in his suitcase, Hebrew media reported.

Gal Shmuel Farjun, 29, claimed that he left the bullets in his bag by accident when he traveled from Israel to Thailand, and the Foreign Ministry had hoped that the court would agree to deport, rather than jail him, given the circumstance.

Farjun, who has no criminal background, had been held under house arrest since shortly after he was apprehended at the airport on October 22.

His lawyer plans to file an appeal against the decision in the coming weeks. He was again released to house arrest upon posting bail. It was unclear when his sentence would begin.

One of Farjun’s relatives told the Yisrael Hayom daily that his family has been in shock since the sentence was handed down. “Everyone is shocked. Gal is a good soul. The best soul walking in this world. We’re trying to be strong for him and not think about the possibility of him sitting in prison, but it’s hard.”

“This wasn’t a bag of drugs. It was an innocent mistake. He finished his reserve duty, put the bag in storage and forgot that the bullet magazines were in there,” the relative added.

The Foreign Ministry has in the past urged citizens going abroad, many of whom are freshly released from military service, to double-check their luggage to make sure there are no stray bullets.

A similar incident took place in 2019, leading to the brief detention of a pair of Israelis in Egypt and the arrest of another Israeli in Azerbaijan a year earlier.

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