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Fugitive uses social media to embarrass Thai police and justice system

Thailand’s justice system is under additional scrutiny after the escape of Chaowalit Thongduang, also known as “Sia Pang Na Node,” and his subsequent 5-week-long run from the law.

Anonymous videos, posted online, are now drawing attention to Chaowalit’s accusations against the Thai justice system, claiming that malpractice led to his imprisonment.

Meanwhile, the Thai PM Srettha Thavisin is calling for Chaowalit to surrender, emphasising that continued evasion will “only worsen his predicament”. The PM’s statement followed the release of two video clips where a man purported to be Chaowalit alleges injustice and unanswered petitions to the Justice Ministry.

In the first clip, Chaowalit asserts that he was the sole individual denied bail and sentenced to prison, while others, including state officials, escaped indictment. He further contends that authorities attempted to falsely implicate him in a drug case despite no prior involvement in narcotics.

In another clip, Chaowalit admits involvement in a robbery but denies intimidating prosecutors. He expresses suspicion that such claims were fabricated to justify potential harm during the manhunt. Chaowalit declares a willingness to surrender if legal action is taken against the alleged wrongdoers, highlighting his fear for personal safety in the absence of justice.

In response to the clips, the Attorney-General ordered an investigation into Chaowalit’s claims. Prayuth Phetchakhun, spokesman for the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG), revealed that a prosecutor implicated by Chaowalit was involved in a 2020 case where multiple suspects, including the prosecutor, escaped indictment while Chaowalit received a guilty verdict and imprisonment. The AG has instructed further examination of the case file by the OAG’s Academic Office.

National police chief Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol has also instructed the police to investigate Chaowalit’s claims of alleged wrongdoing. A police source confirmed the person in the clips to be Chaowalit, albeit with a clean-shaven appearance and a weight loss of around 10kg.

The search team, believing Chaowalit to be hiding in the southern provinces, continues its efforts. A week ago a team of rangers and police had Chaowalit surrounded but the fugitive managed to get away after reports of shots being fired. Initial reports also stated that Chaowalit had been shot and killed – he wasn’t.

Justice Minister Pol Col Tawee Sodsong ordered an inquiry into Chaowalit’s claims and assured that the justice system seeks the truth without resorting to harm. The Corrections Department, through Facebook, urged the public to provide information for tracking down Chaowalit.

The 37 year old was serving time for attempted murder, escaped to the Banthad mountains after fleeing from Maharat Nakhon Si Thammarat Hospital on October 22, where he was receiving dental treatment.

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