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Deal offered to mafia who mend their ways



BANGKOK: Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan has offered to conditionally let off mafia-style figures with ‘dark influence’ in cases where evidence is weak. However, he warned that they will have to mend their ways.

Hundreds of police and military officers are on the lists of ‘dark’, influential figures who are being targeted in the government’s ongoing crackdown.

“If there is solid evidence for prosecution, they will face legal action,” Gen Prawit, who is also the defence minister, said yesterday.

He said that if the evidence was not good enough, the suspects would be asked to sign an undertaking to desist from illegal activities.

The government has launched a serious crackdown on figures engaging in 16 types of activities, including: illegal money lending; drug trafficking; bid collusion; collection of protection money from taxi motorcyclists; prostitution; trading in illegal arms; and running illegal entertainment and service business establishments.

National Police Commissioner Chakthip Chaijinda yesterday said that he had received a report that more than 200 policemen were associated with dark-influence activities.

“Among them are those with the rank of general. I have already talked to them,” Gen Chakthip said.

Gen Chakthip said that if further probes show these officers are guilty of illegal activities, they will face disciplinary and criminal actions.

Metropolitan Police Bureau Acting Chief Sanit Mahathavorn said that four accused policemen were reportedly affiliated with his agency.

“Two are reportedly involved in drugs, while two others are related to taxi motorcyclists,” Lt Gen Sanit said. “Three of them are still in active services”.

Lt Gen Sanit said that his agency would investigate further to determine if anyone else was involved.

National Police Office Deputy Spokesman Songphon Wattanachai assured that there would be no attempt to protect any policeman accused of being an underworld figure.

“The list of such figures will be forwarded to Deputy National Police Commissioner Srivara Ransibhramanakul for further action,” he said.

Gen Prawit said names of both police and military officers appeared on the lists of influential figures.

“Army Chief Teerachai Nakwanich, in his capacity as the NCPO secretary-general, is in charge of compiling the list of military officers involved,” he said.

Anti-Money Laundering Office Secretary-General Seehanat Prayoonrat said that if requested, his agency would probe the financial transactions and the financial routes of the alleged underworld figures.

“Ill-gotten gains can be seized so that their victims can get compensation,” he said.

Col Piyapong Klinphan, a spokesperson for the NCPO, said that the crackdown on the mafia-style figures would run for about two more years and would cover all provinces.

“We have gathered information from people’s complaints,” he said.

Gen Chakthip denied speculation that the ongoing crackdown on mafia-style figures was related to the NCPO efforts to rein in anti-NCPO movement.

“No, there is no such link,” he said.

— The Nation


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