The ex-police chief accused of suffocating a suspect to death during interrogation is also being investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Commission for his unusual wealth, especially for a police officer in a rural area on an around 40,000 baht per month salary. The officer is said to have made millions of baht from confiscating luxury cars that had been smuggled into the country, earning rewards from the Customs Department. The deputy national police chief, Suchart Theerasawat, says the commission’s investigation is nearly complete and, according to Nation Thailand, many people are involved.
The former police station chief in the rural province Nakhon Sawan, Thitisan Uthanapol, allegedly placed plastic bags over a 24 year old drug suspect’s head and demanded a 2 million baht bribe. Thitisan and six of his subordinates allegedly involved in the incident, face four criminal charges including murder through torture.
Thitisan is known as “Joe Ferrari” for his collection of expensive cars and his lavish lifestyle, especially for a police officer in a rural area on an around 40,000 baht salary. The death in custody case drew attention to the ex-cop’s unusual wealth, which is said to have come from confiscating around 400 cars that had been illegally imported and earning rewards from the Customs Department. The Nation Anti-Corruption Commission launched an investigation into the ex-officer’s wealth and Suchart says the commission is finishing up the investigation.
Suchart says Thai authorities impounded around 130 million baht in assets including Thitisan’s 57 million baht mansion in Bangkok, 24 luxury cars valued at around 70 million baht, his 1.5 million baht condominium, and 18 guns valued at 720,000 baht. Nation Thailand reports that some of the cars impounded by Thai authorities had been reported as stolen from other countries.
Yesterday, the deputy national police chief announced that Thitisan and six of his subordinates will be charged with killing through torture, coercion, abuse of power, dereliction of duty.
Video surveillance footage show police officers around a suspect. Bags were placed on the man’s head and officers beat the man as he fell to the ground, footage shows. Reports say the death was written off as drug overdose, but a recent autopsy report shows the man died from suffocation. Another suspect was released, but reportedly ordered to keep quiet.
According to the Bangkok Post, the commissioner of the Royal Thai Police Office said they have not decided whether Thitisan would be dismissed or expelled from the force.
Officers facing charges include Pol Major Rawirot Disthong, Captain Songyos Klainak, Lieutenant Thoranin Maswanna, Snr Sgt-Major Wisut Boonkiew, Snr Sergeant Major Suphakorn Nimcheun, and Sgt-Major Paweekorn Khammarew.
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