On Tuesday, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin announced the formation of a panel to probe alleged police involvement in online gambling activities, following cyber crime police raids on the homes of deputy national police head Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn on Monday.
Before the cabinet meeting at Government House, the prime minister stated that the investigative committee had three members and that details were in his written order for the investigation.
The order names a chairman, Chatchai Promlert, a former permanent secretary for the interior, as well as two other members, Chartpong Chirabandhu, a former deputy attorney-general, and Pol Gen Winai Thongsong, a former deputy national police commander, as secretary.
The panel will investigate the facts and legal elements of the searches of high-level police officials’ homes in Bangkok and dozens of other locations in the provinces on Monday, as well as similar operations in the future. The residence of Pol Gen Surachate was among those searched.
The searches on Monday were based on previously discovered financial transactions related to gambling websites, which had a significant influence on the court system, according to the decision.
Every 10 days, the examining committee must report its findings to the prime minister. The prime minister has directed that government personnel work with the committee.
Meanwhile, Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn, Deputy National Police Chief, filed a complaint with the Criminal Court on Tuesday, charging contempt of court in the police application for a warrant that allowed them to search various houses he used on Monday.
Later, Pol Gen Surachate told reporters that the search warrant application hid facts from the court.
He claimed that the police failed to notify the court that he was occupying the five houses, and that a big force was deployed in the searches, tarnishing his name.
On Monday morning, cybercrime police raided the homes on Vibhavadi 60 Road in Bangkok. It was part of a bigger operation against a gambling network online.
According to the deputy police chief, the officers who did the searches targeted a police inspector who is close to him, so they would have known he resided there.
“If the court had known that they are my houses it would have acted fairly, because I do not face prosecution,” stated Pol Gen Surachate.
He stated that his close subordinates arrested during the police operation for alleged involvement in internet gambling would also submit complaints.
If the court had known that the arrest warrants were targeting police personnel, it would have issued summonses rather than arrest warrants, because police officers were government officials whose whereabouts were known and who would not attempt to flee, according to the deputy national police chief.
“This case demonstrates concealment and merits suspicion… How can the people expect fair treatment if a deputy national police chief does not receive it?” According to Pol Gen Surachate.
According to him, the motions to the court for arrest warrants for his colleagues merely specified the targets by name and withheld their police levels.
Pol Gen Surachate stated that he has nothing to do with the online gambling industry. Some of his subordinates had a relationship with a suspected online gambling site, but that was a personal concern that should not be associated with him, according to Pol Gen Surachate.
His five homes were searched on Monday, according to the deputy national police commander. He claimed they belonged to a close cousin, a wealthy businessman from Udon Thani province.
Because he is from the southern province of Songkhla, he rented the houses for his convenience while in Bangkok. He lived in two of the houses and used the other three for storage.
He immediately discussed the issue with national police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas following the searches.
He claimed that the national police head informed him that he was aware that the properties might be inspected and had directed the officials in charge to notify him in advance. However, the national police head stated that he was only told of the searches after they were completed, according to Pol Gen Surachate.
“This suggests that the national police commander did not issue the (search) order… I confirm that I will file a lawsuit against everyone involved in the incident… I’m sure someone requested it… “It’s about politics within the Royal Thai Police Office,” stated Pol Gen Surachate.