Army denies punishing sergeant over graft allegations

PHOTO: Army spokesman Winthai Suvaree - thaivisa

In a press briefing yesterday, an army spokesman denied that a sergeant is facing punishment for exposing alleged graft in an army unit, saying rather that Narongchai Intharakawee faces disciplinary and criminal action for “dereliction of duty”. Previous reports said Narongchai, who serves as a budget clerk at the army ordnance department, claimed he has been intimidated, threatened, and faced punishment for exposing graft involving military allowances.

Narongchai says this forced him to abscond and seek protection from the House committee on legal affairs, justice and human rights, and share the matter with the media. He lodged a complaint directly with the Thai army chief Apirat Kongsompong, who recently set up a complaints hotline.

The spokesman maintained the army has a policy of ensuring justice for all personnel, who can lodge complaints through official channels in the military chain of command.

Apirat set up a panel to look into the alleged graft in early May, and the panel wrapped its probe at the end of the month. It found there were grounds to the allegation, and the army chief instructed the panel to forward the case to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

The spokesman insists the army will not protect any wrongdoers, because the army was also damaged by the alleged graft, and that Narongchai faces disciplinary and criminal action for his absence from work, not for exposing the alleged graft.

In September last year, Narongchai was accused of disrespecting a superior. A disciplinary panel was established to look into the matter, and decided to put him in detention for 7 days, from March 18-24. But Narongchai evaded detention, fled and now faces disciplinary and criminal action for dereliction of duty.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

Thailand News

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