In southern Thailand, 11 government officials, including six immigration police, have been arrested and charged with taking bribes to facilitate the release of five foreign fishing trawlers that had been confiscated earlier for illegally fishing in Thai waters.
The bribes were allegedly given to facilitate the fishing trawlers’ release.
Yesterday, Police Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, assistant national police chief of Thailand, announced that 11 government officials had been arrested on suspicion of graft and malfeasance.
Fishing in Thai waters without permission resulted in the seizure of five trawlers and the arrest of 22 crew members in December of last year. The incident occurred following the conclusion of the court case; the trawlers were taken to the Songkhla customs office, where they remained until being sold at auction.
After the auction, it was prohibited for the fishing boats to leave Thailand in any direction. However, it was not long before the vessels were spotted entering Malaysian waters.
The Royal Thai Police quickly coordinated with their counterparts in Malaysia to pursue and stop them.
The investigation that eventually led to the arrest of the 13 people involved in taking the vessels out of Thailand was initiated by immigration police. According to Pol Lt Gen Surachate, one of them was officer Prasert, who also worked for a shipping company as a representative. The gentleman’s surname was not revealed in the report.
The officers continued their investigation, which helped shed light on many officials involved. For the crimes of accepting bribes, engaging in malfeasance, and failing to perform their duties.
The criminal court-approved arrest warrants were issued for a total of 11 government officials: six immigration police officers, five officials working at the marine border, and five officials working at marine border disease control checkpoints. All surrendered.
Immigration police officers Pol Sub Lt Chanida Khaiyasena, Pol Snr Sgt Maj Reowadee Suphong, Pol Snr Sgt Maj Khunnaphat Chanowan, Pol Sgt Rada Nookhong, acting Pol Lt Chatree Onthon, and acting Pol Lt Chindanai Kawsriwarawong were involved in the incident.
Niti Uthumporn and Chatuporn Khetdam were two of the other five people who were arrested. Anuphat Korwanit, Jettawat Khomkhao, and Nonthaphat Ampornphan were the three senior disease control checkpoint officials.
According to Pol Lt Gen Surachate, all eleven officials were taken into custody and are currently being held at the Singha Nakhon police station in Songkhla pending further legal action.
He said that those officials would face severe consequences due to the investigation.
Source: Bangkok Post