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Internal dispute sees national police chief and deputy sidelined

PHOTO: Bangkok Biz News

The Thai PM has transferred the national police chief and his famous deputy, amid an internal dispute within the senior ranks of the Royal Thai Police.

National Police Chief Torsak Sukvimol, aka “Big Tor”, and his deputy chief, Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn, have both been transferred to inactive posts in PM Srettha Thavisin’s office for 60 days. It’s understood the transfers followed a meeting between the high-ranking officers and Srettha yesterday, March 20.

According to a Nation Thailand report, Kittirat Phanphet, deputy chief of the Royal Thai Police, is expected to assume the role of National Police Chief in a caretaker capacity.

The PM says he ordered the transfers as he doesn’t want Torsak and Surachate in positions where they could interfere in an ongoing investigation into Surachate’s alleged involvement in an online gambling network . The deputy national police chief is facing allegations of bribery and money laundering, which he strenuously denies.

After the transfers were announced, both officers addressed a press conference in which they pledged not to interfere in the investigation, but to leave it with the National Anti-Corruption Commission. They also denied there was any tension or disagreement between them.

“We have never had a conflict with one another and from now on, if there’s a dispute within the Royal Thai Police, it does not stem from us.”

The accusations levelled at Surachate first began in February, when Jaroonkiat Pankaew, deputy commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau, filed a police complaint with the NACC. In it, he accused Surachate of an abuse of office, taking bribes, and money laundering, in relation to an ongoing gambling website.

Surachate has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying the gambling ring had instead paid a large sum of money to a senior police officer whose name begins with “tor tao” in the Thai alphabet. This prompted speculation that he was referring to his superior, Torsak.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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