Burmese warlord 'admits murdering sailors' in China

The defendants on trial in Kunming, 20 September
Image caption The six men were brought to China in May

A suspected Burmese warlord and five other men have admitted murdering 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong river at a trial in China, state media report.

Two Chinese cargo ships with 13 dead crew members were discovered on the Thai side of the river in October.

Naw Kham is believed to be one of the most powerful warlords in the Golden Triangle of Thailand, Laos and Burma.

Operating in a lawless region known for drugs and smuggling, he was regarded as untouchable for more than a decade.

However, in April he was captured in Burma and was taken the following month to China along with the five other men on Chinese charges of murder, drug-trafficking, kidnapping and hijacking.

The court in Kunming will announce the sentences against the six at a later date.

Chinese pressure forced the authorities in the other three countries to act, the BBC's South-East Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head, reports from Bangkok.

However, much about this case is still unclear, our correspondent adds.

Nine Thai soldiers have also been accused of involvement in the killings and their case is still under investigation.

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