Thailand to Use Fingerprint Scanners at New Airport to Nab Criminals

BANGKOK, Thailand_In an effort to crack down on foreign criminals and fugitives sneaking into the country, Thailand's immigration authorities plan to install high-tech fingerprint identification equipment at Bangkok's brand-new international airport.

The new fingerprinting devices will use biometric scanning technology to maintain security, said a news release Thursday from Airports of Thailand, the state airport operator

Immigration police also plan to install electronic passport control equipment by the end of November, it said.

Passengers would be asked to present their passports to be read by passport reading machines at two separate points before boarding their flights, including at boarding gates, said Immigration Police Commissioner Lt. Gen. Suwat Suwatsisakul.

"This is to prevent the usage of bogus passports," Suwat said in the news release. "The machines are also connected to a database of wanted persons."

Thailand is a commonly used hideaway for international gangsters, fugitives and terrorists.

Southeast Asian terror chief Hambali - once dubbed Osama bin Laden's point man in the region - was arrested in Thailand in 2003. He was traveling on a fake Spanish passport.

More recently, Thai immigration authorities have arrested several fugitives - mostly from Europe and the United States _wanted on charges ranging from child sex abuse to murder, and sent them back to their home countries to face charges.