Legal battle looms as local power player denies premeditated murder: Nakhon Pathom’s Kamnan Nok secures bail and pledges to face trial in April 2024. He is accused of orchestrating the murder of Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn Saibua but claims he is innocent of the charge. 

The former Nakhon Pathom local kamnan who has been at the centre of controversy since a fateful September 6th gathering at his headquarters in the province and who has been held at Bangkok Remand Prison since then, Mr Praween Chankhlai or ‘Kamnan Nok’ was released on bail on Friday and is to appear before the Criminal Court again in April 2024 to face trial on a charge of premeditated murder of a senior police officer. After the hearing, Mr Praween insisted on his innocence, vowed to fight the case in court and denied ordering the assassination of the policeman.

On December 1st, 2023, at the Criminal Court, Ratchadapisek Road before the bench, former headman Mr Praween Chankhlai (left) or ‘Kamnan Nok’ was released on bail and is to face premeditated murder charges on April 24th for the killing of Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn Saibua on September 6th last.

In what promises to be a gripping legal showdown, 35-year-old Praween Chankhlai, alias Kamnan Nok, sent a strong signal from the confines of Bangkok Remand Prison on Friday, determined to battle accusations of orchestrating a hit on Highway Patrol Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn Saibua after a verbal altercation at a party hosted by the local kamnan on September 6th last at his home in the Ta Kong area of Nakhon Pathom.

The court’s decision to release him sparks anticipation of a thorough examination of evidence scheduled for April 22, 2024.

In a defiant stance, Kamnan Nok, released on bail, denies the capital murder charge filed by prosecutors and vows to defend himself in court next April

On December 1, 2023, the Criminal Court, Ratchadaphisek Road, witnessed a pivotal moment as Kamnan Nok faced charges of being an accomplice in the murder of Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn Saibua, a highway police officer. The alleged crime unfolded on September 6, 2023, during a party at Kamnan Nok’s residence in Muang District, Nakhon Pathom Province.

As the court proceedings unfolded, Kamnan Nok, renowned as a former village headman, unequivocally denied all charges linked to the hire of Mr Thananchai Manmak to shoot Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn.

The charge against him is one of premeditated murder of the police officer and the stakes could not be higher with the death penalty on the line.

Mr Praween, on Friday, specifically denied assertions by police that he hired, assisted or ordered the killing or execution of the police officer on his property that night.

Former village headman became an emblem of district corruption leading to a campaign by the government against ‘influential people’ in local areas

The prosecutor, representing Criminal Division 7, had filed a lawsuit against Praween Chankhlai, initiating a legal battle that had captured public attention.

The former village headman has come to be seen as emblematic of the abuse of power throughout Thailand and the incident has sparked a nationwide anti-corruption investigation led by the Ministry of the Interior.

Kamnan murder case sees probe into possible corruption in Ministry of Interior contract bids
Deputy Interior Minister says cleaning house starts at home as he ordered son-in-law’s arrest

The murder itself led to further tragedy and death, with Mr Thananchai, who died later in a hail of police bullets, 

Previously on the night in question, he had walked up to Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn also known as Inspector Bank amidst a gathering of police and civilians, opening fire, and inflicting severe and fatal injuries. 

Siwakorn Saibua succumbed to the injuries at a hospital, with his death leading to strong public unease about the impunity assumed by his killers and the relationship between police, local officials and Ministry of the Interior contracts awarded to firms controlled by the former headman.

September 6th murder had knock-on effects for the Royal Thai Police with the suicide days later of a Commanding officer and tensions within the ranks

The death of Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn days later led to the suicide of his commander in the Highway Police Colonel Vachira Yaothaisong at his home.

The zealous pursuit of the case against both suspected corruption and the failures of fellow police officers on the night of September 6th is thought to have led to some animosity in the ranks against Deputy National Police Commissioner General Surachate Hakparn who was thought to be on his way to being appointed police commissioner at the end of September, up to that fateful moment.

Big Joke’s career suffers another setback as Torsak gets top job after Police Commission meeting
Nakhon Pathom police murder and subsequent criminal probes sent shockwaves through the ranks of the force breeding hostilities and tension
Kamnan Nok death penalty case leads to a national crackdown on all illegal activity and corruption

Ultimately, this did not happen after a bizarre and suspicious raid on the top policeman’s home in the Vibhavadi Rangsit Road area of Bangkok.

Celebratory event with dozens of police raised eyebrows leading to Kamnan Nok being before the Criminal Court on Friday charged with murder

In public, senior Royal Thai Police officers questioned the nature of the celebratory gathering with over 25 police officers present as well as why other police at the scene neither prevented the murder nor arrested Mr Praween or Kamnan Nok on the spot as he was seen to engage in a heated argument with the victim just minutes before his execution by an associate of the kamnan.

The fact that it emerged the argument was over the proposed promotion of a policeman linked to Kamnan Nok added to the doubts.

The immediate aftermath of the killing saw Thananchai fleeing the scene before engaging in a fatal gunfight with the police in Kanchanaburi province the following day. 

Meanwhile, Kamnan Nok, who had been detained at Bangkok Remand Prison, was brought before the court to acknowledge the murder charge on Friday.

35-year-old businessman stood his ground on Friday

Undeterred by the gravity of the accusation, Mr Praween, aged 35, stood firm, vehemently denying any involvement in the murder plot. 

With unwavering resolve, on Friday, he declared his intention to fight the case in court, setting the stage for a legal battle that promises to unravel the intricacies of the alleged crime.

The court, recognising the significance of the case, has scheduled April 22, 2024, at 9 a.m. for both sides to present themselves for an exhaustive examination of evidence.

This date marks a crucial juncture in Kamnan Nok’s quest to clear his name and counter the grave allegations levelled against him.

‘Influential figure’ defends himself on the most serious charge there can be, premeditated murder of a policeman with penalty on conviction being death

The drama surrounding Kamnan Nok’s legal battle underscores the complexity of the criminal justice system and the challenges faced by the country in controlling what the Ministry of the Interior has called ‘influential figures’.

The question now is how much the public will learn from the criminal case against Mr Praween or Kamnan Nok from April 2024 as Thailand’s legal system is quite different to Western models.

The local politician and business leader will be on trial for his life with senior police officers going on the record in the last few months to say there is enough evidence both to convict Kamnan Nok and see the death penalty imposed.

On Friday, however, the accused put everyone on notice that he intends to put up a legal fight to prove his innocence of premeditated murder.

Join the Thai News forum, follow Thai Examiner on Facebook here
Receive all our stories as they come out on Telegram here
Follow Thai Examiner here

Further reading:

Prisons boss confirms that the man being held in jail is the real Kamnan Nok to counter rumours

Kamnan murder case sees probe into possible corruption in Ministry of Interior contract bids

Local corruption linked to the police under the spotlight after officer’s murder in Nakhon Pathom

Golden Triangle drugs threat aired in parliament, claims of senior police officers being involved in trafficking

Corruption and border smuggling linked to the Muno blast in Narathiwat. Call for top-level probe

US and Thai agencies forge closer ties as cabinet tackles corruption within the Royal Thai Police national ranks

Explosive report on the Red Bull scandal exposing ‘corruption’ due at the Prime Minister’s office

Police accused of bribery file complaint with the AG’s Office based on new 2022 anti-torture law