Thailand’s deputy national police chief, Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn told reporters as many as 12 police officers and three civilians are thought to be involved in extorting nearly US$4 million (140 million baht) from alleged members of an illegal internet gambling ring.
He stated that the Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for the three civilians today, two of whom have fled to another country, leaving behind a woman, the wife of one of the two men.
He stated that some officers had informed the two civilian suspects of their approaching arrests, and that police will seek assistance from their counterparts in the bordering country by requesting that the two fugitives be handed over to Thai police.
The investigation into this extortion case was assigned to Pol Gen Surachate by the national police chief, Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittipraphat.
Pol Maj-Gen Kampol Leelaprapaporn, the chief of Chon Buri province police, is one of the officers accused of extortion.
He and seven of his colleagues have already been relocated to the Royal Thai Police operations centre, pending the conclusion of an inquiry.
Pol Maj-Gen Kampol Leelaprapaporn was detained for more than three hours this afternoon (Sunday) on suspicion of extorting 140 million baht from accused participants of an illegal online gambling ring.
Police Chief Indicted
According to a police source, the commander has been charged with misconduct in office, taking bribes, and extortion, all in violation of Sections 157, 149, and 309 of the Criminal Code.
As he exited the interrogation, Pol Maj-Gen Kampol declined to speak to a large group of media. Several plainclothes officers brought him to a waiting car, which whisked him away from Bangkok’s Police Club.
Meanwhile, two technology crime suppression officials, Pol Col Damrongsak and Pol Lt-Col Pathompong, reported to investigators to admit to being charged.
Atchariya Ruangrattanapong, chairman of the Crime Victims Assistance Club, and a lawyer attended the two cops. They claimed that they simply carried out their immediate superior’s orders.
The two were accused with illegal imprisonment, official wrongdoing, and extortion.
Pol Gen Surachate informed the reporters that he met with Pol Maj-Gen Kampol yesterday and asked him to speak the truth to the investigators because they used to work together.
According to the deputy police chief, this will be the first case in which the police will use the Prevention and Suppression of Torture Act in their investigation.
Thailand has a lengthy history of police corruption. While it is important to emphasise that not all Thai police officers are dishonest, there have been several incidences and reports of police corruption. Bribery, extortion, coordination with criminal networks, and misuse of power are all typical kinds of police corruption in Thailand.
The low salaries offered to police personnel, which can contribute to a higher vulnerability to bribery and other forms of corruption, are a significant factor contributing to police corruption in Thailand. Inadequate training and oversight systems also contribute to corrupt practises within the police force.
Efforts have been undertaken in Thailand throughout the years to prevent police corruption. The Royal Thai Police, in collaboration with other government agencies, has put anti-corruption measures in place and launched internal investigations. However, improvement has been gradual, and police corruption remains a problem.
Thailand’s civil society organisations, media outlets, and activists have also been critical in bringing to light examples of police corruption and lobbying for reform. They are critical in increasing public awareness and forcing authorities to act.