Bangkok

Six Bangkok police transferred in alleged extortion attempt

by Jessada Chantharak

Six Bangkok policemen have been transferred to inactive posts and are the subject of a fact-finding probe into allegations that they raided the home of a 49 year old food vendor and allegedly imposed a bogus 50,000 baht charge in exchange for his ‘freedom’ on the evening of August 10.

Somtam spicy salad vendor Sakchai Naen-udon had on August 13 initially filed a report, but not an official complaint, about the incident with the police. On September 10, he filed a complaint, along with additional information, at the Phayathai precinct in central Bangkok.

Sakchai said that while he was selling somtam at his stall on the night of August 10, his 30 year old daughter came crying to tell him that some 10 plain-clothes policemen had raided their house.

He rushed to his rented home and asked to see a search warrant, but the officers refused to show it to him. Instead, they claimed to have found an unspecified amount of crystal methamphetamine or “ice” – which they also did not show him – and escorted his daughter away.

Sakchai said he followed the police to their office and found his daughter sitting in a dark corner of the building’s ground floor without handcuffs, with one plain-clothes officer standing guard over her, and so he took her home.

The police who later came to his house accused him of helping a fugitive flee and escorted him back to their office, where they told him that he was wanted in an extortion case and must pay a 50,000 baht bail – which he did at the time for fear of of going to jail and out of ignorance of the law, he said.

Feeling he had been subjected to injustice, Sakchai filed a report at the Phayathai precinct about this incident, which he claimed involved a police Sergeant-Major who had a dispute with his son years ago. The arresting team’s Inspector showed up to return the 50,000 baht and asked him to let ‘bygones be bygones’, he said.

Sakchai said he initially wanted to let the incident go quietly but changed his mind after a later getting a phone call from a policeman asking him if he ‘wasn’t afraid to die’. He said he was now determined to press charges.

Metropolitan Police Division 1 chief Pol Maj-General Zenith Samransamruadkit initially signed a September 10 order for the immediate transfer of seven accused officers to inactive positions at the Metropolitan Police Division 1 operations centre pending the results of a 15 day probe. Initially accused were three commissioned officers (one police Major and two police Captains) and four constable officers (three police Sergeant-Majors and one police Corporal).

However Zenith on Wednesday cancelled the transfer of the accused police Corporal on grounds of misidentification after determining he had not been involved, despite the food vendor identifying him.

SOURCE: The Nation

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