The case of ‘Ferrari Jo’ or former Police Colonel Thitisan Utthanaphon has already thrown some curves as lawyers begin to plan a defence for the subordinate police officers charged before the court with murder while the former Nakhon Sawan City police boss, on his return in handcuffs to meet senior officers in Bangkok on Thursday evening, attacked media coverage of the atrocity and denied that he ever attempted to extort money from the drug suspect who died at his hands while in custody.
On Thursday night, the former commander of Nakhon Sawan City Police and the man seen on a viral video, executing a helpless drug suspect in custody on August 5th last, told senior police officers convened at the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) headquarters that he was a victim of slander by the media whose reports had made him feel suicidal. He said he had returned to Thailand to assist his subordinates defend the charges against them. He adamantly denied that he attempted to extort the 24-year-old drug dealer as reported in the press but suggested he felt strongly about the damage the drugs trade was doing to men and women in Nakhon Sawan.
The National Police Commissioner General Suwat Jangyodsuk interrogated former Police Colonel Thitisan Utthanaphon after he was arrested earlier in the day in Chonburi and brought to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) headquarters in Bangkok for questioning.
It is understood the high profile policeman, wanted for the murder and torture of a drug suspect on August 5th last, surrendered to police after considering his position.
It comes as a top official in the Thai Customs Department has come forward to reveal what may be the source of the young policeman’s massive wealth which has come to light in the last 48 hours.
Customs chief revealed vehicle seizure links with ‘Ferrari Jo’ which may explain his unusual wealth
In an extraordinary statement by Customs Chief, Patchara Anuntasilpa, on Thursday, he suggested that up to ฿300 million may have been earned on 363 luxury cars seized and which were linked to cases being handled by the former policeman.
At a conference with the police chief and other senior Royal Thai Police officers at the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) headquarters on Thursday evening, following his arrest earlier in Chonburi by arrangement, Colonel Thitisan accused the media of slandering his name and denied that he had ever attempted to extort ฿2 million from the drug dealer suspect who died under torture.
Confessed to killing a 24-year drug dealing suspect in custody to obtain further intelligence and stamp out drugs, gave himself up to protect his subordinates
He confessed to being the man in the video and to accidentally playing a part in the death of 24-year-old Jeerapong Thanapat by applying torture but suggested that this was only to gather more intelligence on the man’s illicit activities.
Referring to the intense press coverage of his cruel actions on August 5th, he said that it had left him on the verge of suicide to see himself portrayed publicly in such a fashion.
Finally, he told the officers concerned that he had decided to give himself up because of a sense of duty to his subordinates whose plight on Thursday, as they were taken to court, had touched him deeply.
After meeting with senior police officers in Bangkok, the former Nakhon Sawan police chief was transferred by helicopter back to the province guarded by elite Hanuman armed officers at 9.25 pm.
Police commissioner may travel to Nakhon Sawan
National Police Commissioner, General Suwat Jangyodsuk, gave a press conference after questioning the arrested officer.
Reports earlier suggested that he may travel to Nakhon Sawan himself tomorrow to reveal more about the shocking case of police torture and murder which came to light in a lurid video published on Tuesday which was confirmed later by officers at Royal Thai Police headquarters as authentic.
General Suwat emphasised to the public that every officer within the Royal Thai Police, from the Commander and Chief down, was accountable under the law for his or her actions.
He said that no perpetrator of any crime would be shielded by the force which would always do its duty to uphold the law.
It is understood that the police chief spoke with Colonel Thitisan by telephone within the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) building from another room to clarify aspects of the case and his testimony.
Police Colonel Thitisan, also known as ‘Ferrari Jo’, was earlier reported to have surrendered himself on Thursday after alerting police to his whereabouts in Myanmar’s Myawaddy province having crossed into the country from Mae Sot in Tak province.
Surrendered in Chonburi on Thursday at 4 pm
However, at the end of last night’s press conference in Bangkok, it was revealed that he had surrendered to Police Major General Ekkarak Limsangkat in Chonburi on Thursday after telling the senior officer that he felt suicidal about the situation.
He is understood to have rendezvoused by arrangement with the former police colleague in front of Saen Suk Police Station in Bang Saen, Chonburi at 4 pm to be taken into custody and from there to CSD headquarters in Bangkok.
Revealing details of what he says happened at Nakhon Sawan Police Station on Thursday, August 5th last
The former police officer gave some revealing details on what happened at Nakhon Sawan Police Station on August 5th.
He said he had gone downstairs and became involved with the interrogation of Jeerapong Thanapat because it was a big case.
He said the suspect was not forthcoming with the truth and this is why he had taken action against him.
He said he was determined to get the information from the suspect to break the drugs trade in Nakhon Sawan which was destroying the lives of brothers and sisters in the province.
He admitted that what he did was wrong but would answer the case properly in court.
Significantly, he said he was shocked by the collapse of the suspect but that he was still breathing and had a pulse when taken to hospital.
Police chief says he made a mistake and apologised to fellow police officers and relatives for his actions
He told the media that he had made a mistake.
‘I’m sorry. I was really working hard. But I admit my mistake. And I apologise to my parents and relatives of the man who died. I really didn’t mean to. I apologise to the commander-in-chief of the police and all the police.’
Colonel Thitisan denied strenuously that any extortion attempt was made by him.
He also told the press that he had never been complicit in fraud as a serving police officer.
Former Colonel to be brought before Nakhon Sawan Provincial Court on murder and extortion charges
On Thursday, Police General Suchart Theerasawat, Deputy National Police Commissioner returned to the station where arrangements are being made to bring the main suspect in the investigation before the court on foot of an arrest warrant for abuse of power, extortion and murder issued on Wednesday.
General Suchart is also directing the ongoing case that is being put together against senior police officers who took part in the brutal torture of 24-year-old drug suspect, Mr Jeerapong, on Thursday, August 5th last after he was arrested with his wife earlier in possession of 100,000 methamphetamine pills.
Police are also understood to have received information on the last outstanding officer who has not yet been brought into custody. This policeman has been identified as Police Lieutenant Thoranin Makwanna.
Extraordinary scenes at Mueang Nakhon Sawan Police Station on Thursday morning as officers were herded out under armed guard with some crying
On Thursday, there were extraordinary scenes in Nakhon Sawan when police from the city centre police station, along with elite armed officers, exited five of the accused men from the building to a waiting van to transport them to Nakhon Sawan Provincial Court at approximately 10 am.
At least one of those taken to court was seen crying including Police Lieutenant Paweekorn Khammarieo who was reportedly Colonel Thitisan’s driver.
‘Please give me justice,’ he was quoted as saying while another of the accused told the media posse that the ‘truth will emerge’ in the case.
In court, prosecutors objected to bail for the men even though relatives were present and at least one had brought cash funds to apply for bail.
Court refused bail to the policemen on the basis of flight risk and interference with the criminal case
The court refused bail citing the serious nature of the charges which could lead to the death penalty being handed down.
The court also heard that as former upholders of the law, the men posed a risk to the ongoing investigation and could effectively tamper with evidence and intimidate potential witnesses.
In Nakhon Sawan Provincial Court on Thursday the situation from the perspective of the co-accused emerged with a strong suggestion that the junior officers intended to launch a vigorous defence to the charges against them.
62-year-old Samarn Ditthong, the father of Police Major Raveeroj Ditthong, brought ฿400,000 to court as surety for the temporary release of his son.
It is reported that Police Major Raveeroj claims that he and other officers had tried to restrain their superior officer as he assaulted the drug suspect.
He is understood to have felt compelled to follow orders.
Wider probe into Ferrari Jo’s financial affairs after luxury cars worth ฿100 million were found at his ฿60 million home in the Ramitra area of Bangkok
A wider investigation has been launched into the unusual wealth of the mid-level police officer at the centre of the outrage, who had a salary of just ฿40,000 per month but who lived in a home worth over ฿60 million in the Ramintra area of Bangkok staffed with servants and where ฿100 million worth of luxury cars were found on Wednesday in a police raid.
On Thursday, Patchara Anuntasilpa, the Director of the Thai Customs Department, an agency within the Ministry of Finance, came forward to reveal that Colonel Thitisan had been a top official involved in tracking down and confiscating illegal luxury cars imported into Thailand on which taxes or duties had been evaded.
The senior civil servant revealed that, in all, Colonel Thitisan had been involved in the seizure of 368 luxury vehicles, 363 of which netted the state ฿1 billion while 5 remained unsold.
Extraordinary information set before the press by the Customs Department boss on Thursday which may explain the officer’s wealth but raises other concerns
In an extraordinary revelation, the top official revealed that under the programme which was amended in 2017, officers such as Colonel Thitisan could hope to net up to 30% of the proceeds on such seizures which, in these cases, would have amounted to ฿300 million.
No firm details were given by Director Patchara but he did confirm that Colonel Thitisan was among the beneficiaries of the programme which, it appears, is still in existence with payments to officers now capped at 20% and limited to ฿5 million per case.
The Customs boss also referred to suspicions that public bidders at the auctions for such cars were operating at a disadvantage.
This came about because of control units on the expensive cars, which were removed before an auction and which required further cooperation from other government agencies for them to be reinstalled.
Policeman offered a former actress girlfriend ฿230 million in cash held by a nominee in trust for him
It was suggested that this arrangement required further payments be made to the officials concerned leaving a shadowy group in control of bidding for the cars.
The customs chief explained that he was making this information public after an investigation had been conducted following this week’s developments.
He said the programme was linked with the 39-year-old police officer who enjoyed, up to last Tuesday, a colourful, successful and highly lucrative career in the Royal Thai Police.
One report on Tuesday suggested that Colonel Thitisan had offered a former girlfriend, an actress, up to ฿230 million in funds, held by a nominee in trust for him, in 2017.