Thailand’s deputy national police chief says the number of police officers accused of extorting a gambling gang has now risen from 8 to 12. According to a Thai PBS World report, Surachate Hakparn was addressing the media yesterday, June 18.
He says the authorities now believe as many as 12 officers, and 3 civilians, were involved in extorting around 140 million baht from members of an illegal online gambling operation. Surachate is heading up the investigation, having been assigned to the extortion probe by national police chief, Damrongsak Kittipraphat.
According to Surachate, the Criminal Court yesterday issued arrest warrants for 3 civilians allegedly involved in the extortion racket. However, it’s believed 2 of them have fled to a nearby country. The remaining person is understood to be the wife of one of the runaway men.
Surachate claims the men managed to abscond because some officers had alerted them ahead of time that they were about to be arrested. He says the authorities are now seeking the cooperation of their counterparts in the neighbouring country, who will be asked to arrest both men and hand them over to the Thai authorities.
According to the Thai PBS World report, one of the most prominent officers implicated in the scandal, is Kampol Leelaprapaporn, commander of Chon Buri Provincial Police. Kampol and 7 subordinates have been transferred to the Royal Thai Police operations centre, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Surachate has confirmed that he met with Kampol on Saturday, June 17, as both men used to work together. He says he has advised the Chon Buri police commander to come clean and tell the truth, adding that he personally bears him no ill-will.
Another two officers, named only as Damrongsak and Pathompong, have reported to the authorities to face charges against them. The men, both technology crime suppression officers, were accompanied by the chairman of the Crime Victims Assistance Club, Atchariya Ruangrattanapong, and a lawyer.
Both officers insist they were just doing their job and obeying orders issued by their superior. They have been charged with illegal detention, extortion, and wrongful conduct in office.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World