Elderly bridge players arrested in Thailand get passports back

File image. Source: News Tribune

The elderly bridge players who were arrested in Thailand's seaside town of Pattaya for allegedly gambling have been given their passports back.

More than 30 bridge-playing foreigners, including two Australians, who were arrested and charged with gambling offences in Thailand have been given their passports back and are likely to have the charges dismissed.

The group was arrested in the resort town of Pattaya last week and held for several hours before they were asked to pay 5000 baht (A$192) as bail and had their passports confiscated.

Briton Barry Kenyon, who founded the bridge playing group, told Thai English language media on Tuesday their passports and other documents were being returned.

However, Mr Kenyon said the bail money was not expected to be returned until the public prosecutor formally discharged the case in two to three weeks' time.

The arrests, which triggered widespread criticism, were carried out by the civilian Department of Public Administration, backed by Thai army personnel, who raided the premises as the group played bridge on the first floor of a restaurant in Pattaya.

NSW man Avon Wilsmore told Fairfax Media the group had been forced to sign false declarations they had been gambling.

The group had been charged under the Playing Card Act of 1943 enacted during the occupation of the country by the Japanese Imperial Forces.

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