BANGKOK – A Bangkok Criminal Court has approved the arrest warrants for 11 suspects, including a former Special Branch deputy superintendent, for allegedly extorting money from vendors at Don Muang New Market.
Pol Maj Gen Surachate Hakparn, deputy commissioner of the Tourist Police Bureau, said Friday that Pol Lt Col Santhana Prayoonrat and 11 other people are suspects due to evidence found at the market’s head office and testimonies of more than 200 vendors.
Pol Lt Col Santhana alone faced nine arrest warrants for various acts of alleged extortion, the deputy tourist police chief said.
Pol Maj Gen Surachate also said that extortion was an offence under the anti-money laundering law. The offence is punishable by a jail term up to 10 years.
The deputy commissioner said he was aware that Pol Lt Col Santhana had said the fees he had collected from the vendors were for the maintenance of the market but Santhana would have to explain about this in court.
Pol Lt Col Santhana, a former superintendent at the Special Branch Police, earlier tried to block police searches at the Don Muang New Market near Don Mueang airport.
Hundreds of police and food and drug officials raided hundreds of shops at the market in an attempt to tackle substandard and unlicensed cosmetics and food supplements. The crackdown followed police’s efforts to stop the sales of Magic Skin Co, which allegedly produced and marketed substandard cosmetics and food supplement products and hired stars to endorse them.
Pol Lt Col Santhana is an adviser to the market, parts of which were also allegedly built illegally. He claimed to know many important people and accused “a minister with a military rank” of being behind the market raids. He also claimed to have evidence about alleged corruption involving a cabinet minister and would hand it over only to the prime minister.
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon recently asked if Pol Lt Col Santhana was referring to him.
By Apichart Jinakul