Disgraced police chief Thitisan Utthanaphon and 6 other officers have been charged in an investigation into the death of a man in custody. The victim, 24 year old Chiraphong Thanapat, died while under interrogation at a police station in the northern province of Nakhon Sawan in August. Video footage that showed Thitisan placing several plastic bags over the drug suspect’s head, while allegedly trying to extort money from him, went viral, sparking outrage nationwide. After a brief stint on the run, Thitisan turned himself in at a police station in Chon Buri on August 26.
The Bangkok Post reports that Thitisan is also being investigated for his role in the seizure, resale, and ownership of high-end cars. The former police chief earned the nickname Jo Ferrari as a result of his collection of luxury vehicles. His assets, which have been seized as part of the investigation, also include a 57-million-baht mansion in Bangkok. In total, investigating officers have seized 130 million baht of assets, including 24 cars worth 70 million baht, a condo worth 1.5 million baht, and 18 guns worth 720,000 baht.
Thitisan and his accomplices, Rawirot Ditthong, Songyot Khlainak, Thoranin Matwanna, Suphakon Nimchuen, Wisut Bunkhiew, and Pawikon Khammarew, have been charged with malfeasance, abuse of power, torture causing death, and coercion. A full report is being delivered to public prosecutors today.
Suchart Theerasawat from the Royal Thai Police says investigators are also looking into Thitisan’s role in the confiscation of around 400 smuggled cars. The Bangkok Post reports that officers have already uncovered suspicious records in relation to the cars, along with irregularities in the payments made for their seizure. It’s emerged that Thitisan earned financial rewards from the Customs Department for confiscating vehicles that had been illegally smuggled into the country. Suchart says the investigation is complex as it involves police, customs officials, and many people linked to Thitisan.
Meanwhile, Suwat Jangyodsuk, commissioner of the Royal Thai Police, says no decision has been made on whether to dismiss Thitisan from the police force.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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