TWELVE highway police officers have been charged with extortion and misconduct in connection with the truck sticker bribery scandal, according to Pol. Maj. Gen. Jaroonkiat Pankaew, Counter Corruption Division (CCD) commander and acting Highway Police Division Chief. He stated that additional charges would be revealed as the investigation expands.
The identities of the 12 officers charged have not been disclosed, but they have been reassigned to the Highway Police Division operations centre pending further action.
Pol. Maj. Gen. Jaroonkiat believes that more officers and higher-ranking officials from other agencies are involved in the scandal, which has reportedly persisted for over 20 years. The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will extend the investigation through a working panel.
The controversy was initially exposed by Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn, a Move Forward Party list MP-elect, who claimed that overloaded trucks with special stickers were not detained or their drivers arrested.
Following the initial reports, Pol. Maj. Gen. Ekkaraj Limsangkat, commander of the Highway Police Division, was transferred to an inactive post at the Central Investigation Bureau on May 30. A senior official from the Ministry of Transport, Pisak Jitviriyavasin, acknowledged that there were loopholes in the system regulating overloaded trucks. He emphasised the need to address the human factor and the use of discretion in determining which trucks to detain, Bangkok Post reported.
The Ministry of Transport is focusing on implementing immediate IT solutions to combat corruption, and in the long term, adopting a body camera system for officers. Pisak has instructed the Department of Highways and the Department of Rural Roads to consider using body cameras and plans to discuss the issue at the next meeting on June 20. The Department of Highways operates 97 permanent checkpoints for weighing vehicles, while the Department of Rural Roads has five. Disciplinary action will be taken against officials found to be involved in accepting bribes from overloaded truck operators, Pisak added.
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