This latest case has seen two police officers held in detention by the Phra Khanong Criminal Court until April 13th next and comes after public revulsion and anger last year over the Ferrari Joe case and several other incidents which have undermined confidence in the force and raised disturbing questions about the nature and extent of police corruption.
On Saturday last, there was a powerful image outside Bang Na police station as police officers grappled with one of their own, a senior officer with the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau who was ordered to be detained after it emerged that he was involved with the illegal abduction, detention and extortion of a husband and wife in early March. The police colonel refused to be held in arrest and taken to court by police officers insisting that he had a legal right to appear unescorted as he denied all the charges against him. His detention had already been ordered by the station chief. The man was among a gang of 15 who forcefully attempted to collect a debt from the couple on behalf of an illegal gambling site in a harrowing nine-hour ordeal. The case raises deep and unsettling questions about police corruption and has been met since last weekend with decisive police action both to discipline and prosecute the police officers involved and all concerned with the outrage.
The National Police Commissioner, General Suwat Jangyodsuk, has also ordered an in-depth inquiry into the case and has tasked the leadership of both police forces with getting to the bottom of the situation as police continue to investigate the abduction and extortion of the couple which is believed to have occurred in early March in connection with a debt owed to an illegal online gambling site.
Two police officers have so far been brought before the courts with a third individual, identified by senior police on Tuesday, as Mr Thanathon Anchaleenukul being arrested on the same day at Bang Na Police Station in Bangkok in connection with the illegal detention of the man and woman.
Relation of the couple targeted reported the indent on March 25th last, police now seeking cooperation from husband and wife as investigation proceeds
The two victims in the case have been named by police as Ms Kanchanaporn Chuangkrut and Mr Thawatchai Soithong.
Police Major General Trairong Phiewphan, the Metropolitan Police Bureau deputy chief, revealed that police were in communication with the sister of Ms Kanchanaporn, to arrange for her co-operation and that of Mr Thawatchai, her husband, with the growing investigation.
On Monday, it was understood that both of them had not yet met or been interviewed at length by investigating officers in connection with the case with reports that at least one appointment was cancelled on health grounds.
It is also reported that no firm commitment has been made at this stage for officers to engage with both parties.
The complaint was made to police on March 25th by a woman connected to the affair resulting in last weekend’s arrests.
Activities of the online gambling site being probed to see if there are further corrupt links between it and the police forces, site ordered shut down
Police investigators within the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau and the Metropolitan Police Bureau are investigating the online gambling site that has now been ordered to be closed down to see if it has further links to corrupt police officers within both forces.
Following the closure order, made directly by the chief of the Royal Thai Police, General Suwat, there are fears that the website may be using multiple external servers or that it may change its name or identity to continue trading.
The development comes after the arrest and detention over the weekend of the senior officer with the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau and his subordinate after the targeted businesswoman and her husband were unlawfully held and threatened by a group of 15 well-built men acting on behalf of the gambling website in pursuit of a debt owed.
Two police officers with the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau named and already removed from the force
Over the weekend, police authorities moved swiftly and decisively against the two police officers who are believed to have orchestrated the operation to abduct and extort the couple.
Both policemen, Colonel Kom Rodphao and Police Corporal Abhisit Chasanthia, with a monthly salary of ฿32,450 and ฿14,801 respectively, were dismissed from the force after a criminal case was opened at Bang Na Police Station and evidence against the officers, based on a criminal probe and disciplinary action, appeared to be unassailable.
Following the establishment of an investigation committee, the two officers were ordered to resign from the force and civil service based on Article 3 of the National Police Act 2004 as they were accused of a criminal offence and distrustful behaviour.
The basis of this action was that if the officers were allowed to remain on duty and in government employment, it was feared they may impede the investigation causing further damage to the police force and the government service.
Both can appeal their dismissal within 90 days
The order to remove the two police officers from the service pending the outcome of the criminal case against them was signed by Police Lieutenant General Kanchai Khlaikhleung, the Chief of the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau.
Under Section 95 of the National Police Act 2004, clause 8, both Police Major Kom Rodphao and Police Colonel Abhisit Chasanthia were removed from the service pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.
Both officers may appeal their removal from service to the Administrative Court within 90 days under Section 105 of the bill.
On Monday, police sought arrest warrants for four additional suspects in the case who were all reported to be civilians.
It is understood that further arrest warrants are imminent as the police investigation continues and the net widens.
Bang Na police chief, Police Colonel Monsek Trakulphanit, also said that others involved in the abduction of the couple were ready to turn themselves into the police.
Party abducted by a gang of 15 heavily built men in the Udomsuk area of Bangkok on March 10th last
It is understood that the complaint to police was made by a woman who was among a group abducted from a restaurant in the Udomsuk area of Bangkok in Bang Na by the 15 heavies on Thursday, March 10th last, in the afternoon.
Among those was Police Major Kom, a senior inspector with the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau and the head of a unit within the police force, Police Corporal Abhisit.
At this point in the investigation, it is believed that at least two other members of this gang were police officers working with the Metropolitan Police Bureau.
The gang was captured on CCTV driving a black Fortuner Toyota and told the terrified party that they were working with loan sharks in connection with the debt to the online gambling service.
The men later took the couple to their company office where ฿400,000 was taken along with a gold amulet said to be worth ฿250,000.
The ordeal lasted from 2.40 pm to 11.30 pm and is understood to have left the two principal victims extremely traumatised.
Case quickly taken up by police top brass
The case was quickly acknowledged by police authorities within days of the complaint being made with deputy spokesman Police Colonel Kritsana Pattanacharoen confirming the matter was being investigated and promising that the police officers involved would face both disciplinary and criminal proceedings.
He said the police chief, General Suwat Jangyodsuk, had contacted both Police Lieutenant General Kanchai Khlaikhleung, the head of the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau and Police Lieutenant General Samran Nualma, the Metropolitan Police Bureau Commissioner concerning the case and ordered a wide-ranging investigation.
Later, Police Major General Trairong Phewpan the deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau promised that charges will be pursued against all men involved be they police or civilians.
High drama on Saturday as senior policeman refused to be arrested, escorted to court to face charges
The arrest of Police Colonel Kom at Bang Na Police Station, his interrogation by officers and his subsequent transfer into the custody of the Phra Khanong Criminal Court was an occasion of intense drama on Saturday when the now-former police officer refused to be led out and escorted by arresting officers and taken to court in a waiting police van.
The policeman insisted that he be allowed to travel on his own to the court and used his video camera to record the police officers in his escort who he insisted were disrespecting his legal rights on the matter.
He said he had a right as part of the legal process under Section 29 of the Constitution on the basis that he had not been found guilty of any criminal offence.
He insisted that he denied all the charges made against him and also quoted Section 134 of the Criminal Procedure Code to request that he be allowed to present himself in court in his own right.
This led to a physical struggle between the former policeman and escorting officers outside the police station.
His detention had been ordered by the police superintendent of Bang Na Police Station, Colonel Monsek Trakulpanich.
When the accused police officer and the escorting police party emerged for a second time, another melee broke out before being dispatched by a police van
However, after the arresting party and the accused police officer retreated into the police station, when they later emerged officers again appeared to escort him and another melee developed until Police Colonel Kom was eventually lodged into the police van and taken into the custody of the courts.
Later in court, Police Colonel Kom was ordered to be detained in custody until April 13th when police opposed bail on the grounds that he may interfere in their investigation and given the nature of the alleged crime, intimidate key witnesses.
On Monday, a similar order was made in respect of Police Colonel Abhisit Chasanthia when he was taken to court from Bang Na police station.
Senior police officers, this week, have emphasised that the investigation underway concerns itself with the abduction and extortion on March 10th and that the existence of a debt to an illegal gambling site is not a factor in the case although police are probing the activities of the site itself in relation to potential illegal links with police.
Case raises disturbing questions about the extent and nature of corruption within police ranks in Thailand
This case is bound to raise disturbing questions about the nature and extent of police corruption in Thailand despite efforts to reform the service and its effective performance of its duties in solving crime with some very high profile success stories in recent times.
It follows outcry, in recent years, over the botched investigation into Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya and his subsequent flight from justice after the death of a policeman on duty in September 2012.
Assistant Attorney General in Red Bull case named as a senior prosecutor to central Bangkok district
US businessman in Bangkok kidnap plot seeks justice as police link him to damaging American TV report
Rights activist’s concern as the trial of Ferrari Joe begins in Bangkok for the killing of a small-time drugs suspect
Last year saw the arrest of US businessman and tech millionaire, Louis William Ziskin with others who allegedly were able to hire Bangkok police officers to assist in the kidnapping of an executive with a firm supplying fake surgical gloves to his US firm which had caused Mr Ziskin to lose $2.7 million.
Shocking story of Ferrari Joe, his wealth and the murder of a suspect last August in Nakhon Sawan
Finally, there is the shocking case of Police Colonel Thitisan Utthanaphon or Ferrari Joe who is currently on trial for premeditated murder along with 6 other junior officers for the murder of a 24-year drug suspect on August 5th last while he was station chief in the Mueang district of Nakhon Sawan.
Reports suggest that the murder was likely an attempt to extort ฿2 million from Mr Jeerapong Thanapat, a suspected small-time drug dealer who was killed by strangulation when Police Colonel Thitisan tightly affixed plastic bags over his head.
It later transpired that the 30-year old high-flying police officer with a salary of ฿45,000 per month, whose nickname was linked to his expensive fleet of luxury cars, had amassed a personal fortune of up to ฿600 million through his participation in a government scheme seizing illegally imported luxury cars.
Top-level probe ordered by the police chief in February into allegations of collusion between officers and drug dealers in Nakhon Sawan
A verdict in the trial of Police Colonel Thitisan and six other accused police officers in the case is due on June 8th.
He could ultimately face the death penalty for using torture to murder his victim under the charges brought.
Police reform bill currently before parliament
The arrest of Ferrari Joe and other officers came months after claims in parliament by MPs citing collusion between police officers in Nakhon Sawan and drug kingpins operating from within the Golden Triangle involved in shipping drugs into Thailand.
The government is currently pursuing a police reform bill through parliament which passed its first reading in September last year and is due to become law if the House of Representatives is not dissolved due to rising political instability.