A shellfish trader who accused three policemen of extortion and has vowed not to let the rogue officers escape punishment. Mr. Anucha Binmusa, 46, and two other men gave their accounts to a fact-finding panel set up by Surat Thani Provincial Police.
The three policemen have been “transferred” to the regional office pending the outcome of the investigation.
On Wednesday, about 200 angry fishermen surrounded the policemen and their vehicle. After hearing that they had tried to arrest and then extort money from Mr Anucha.
Mr Anucha later filed a complaint against the officers. Furthermore accusing them of demanding Bt5 million from him in exchange for dropping charges. He was charged with purchasing baby cockles that had allegedly been harvested illegally.
He said he wanted the policemen charged with extortion, illegally carrying weapons in public, and malfeasance.
A fact-finding panel, headed by Pol Col Napatchara Khiadkaew, interrogated Mr Anucha and two witnesses; Pongsak Chakaew, a former kamnan of tambon Thung Kong, and Mr Anucha’s driver.
Mr. Chakaew told investigators that he had known two of the three officers because they used to work in his community. He told the panel that on Wednesday, he received a phone call asking him to negotiate at the scene where local fishermen had surrounded the policemen.
Shellfish trader won’t back down from policemen or extortion claim
Mr Anucha also told the panel that one of the armed policemen tried to take him to the police vehicle, but he refused. He told the panel that the officer had demanded Bt5 million from him in exchange for dropping charges.
Local residents started arriving to see what what was going on with the shellfish trader. As the crowd grew the policemen hurried into their vehicle, but it was encircled by a crowd of residents and fishermen.
Mr Anucha was adamant that he wouldn’t let any policemen posing as thieves escape punishment. He wanted to set a precedent, he added.
According to the Bangkok Post the three officers also told the investigation panel that they had been acting on the order of a police operational team. Following up people wanted on arrest warrants and violators of natural resources laws.
The policemen allege they went to the site after hearing that a shellfish trader was buying cockles illegally harvested. They have also denied intimidating and demanding money from the shellfish trader as alleged.