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Five more caught in police graft scandal

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Five more caught in police graft scandal
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Five civilians accused of involvement in the corruption scheme engulfing crime buster Lt Gen Pongpat Chayaphan have been apprehended and are going through the criminal process, National police chief Gen Somyot Poompanmoung said yesterday.

The five were identified as Nattapon, Sitthisak and Narong Akarapongpreecha, Sutthisak Sutthijit and Chakarn Phakphoom. They were wanted for armed intimidation, criminal conspiracy involving more than five offenders, restraint of freedom, and joint theft.

They are now in the custody of Phra Khanong police in Bangkok.

Gen Somyot said more people involved in this scheme – he didn’t specify the number – would be arrested if or when evidence implicating them became available.

He had earlier dismissed as rumor unconfirmed news reports that some 40 senior police would soon be summonsed for alleged involvement with Gen Pongpat, who is now in custody.

An investigation into this issue was underway. If or when the summonses were issued, it would be known publicly, he said, adding: “Don’t play up this issue so frequently that it disturbs police and distracts them from their work.”

One of the identified suspects, Nattapon, is a former Army major. Royal Thai Police spokesman Lt Gen Prawut Thawornsiri confirmed yesterday that Natthaphol had been stripped of his Army rank and was the same Natthapol among the new suspects in police custody.

Gen Somyot, meanwhile, said he would welcome “tell-all revelations” by former Rak Prathet Thai Party leader Chuwit Kamolvisit about police corruption – if he could back up his claims with concrete evidence.

Speaking at a press conference before Gen Somyot’s remarks, Chuwit said the systematic corruption and fee collection engulfing the former Central Investigation Bureau commissioner involved many more officers apart from CIB deputy chief Maj Gen Kowit Wongrungroj and two non-commissioned officers, all of whom had been suspended and placed in custody.

Somyot later called on Chuwit to fully identify two bureau commissioners he referred to as ‘Kor’ and ‘Jor’, saying it would be easier for police to probe further into their alleged crimes cited by Chuwit.

In Chuwit’s statement, he said a gambling den inside the Colonze massage parlor on Rama IX Road was operated by people who cited backing from the monarchy.

This den generated large profits from gamblers and was able to pay a daily “protection fee” of 20 million baht to the police for nine months of operation in 2001, before it relocated to Soi Ratchadaphisek 18, the same year.

It operated there for 24 days, starting August 1, before it closed down after being exposed by media reports.

He said Gen Pongpat, as CIB chief at the time, was supposedly unable – under a police culture of corruption – to extract the fee from this den without knowledge and approval of the Metropolitan Police Bureau chief at the time.

Chuwit, however, praised Gen Somyot, saying he believed the incumbent Royal Thai Police (RTP) commander was a good person who had good intent in tackling police corruption. The parlor tycoon-cum-politician said the information he released yesterday was based on a document he submitted to the RTP for further investigation. A finding later claimed that no involvement by police was found with this gambling den.

All items, contained in a large number of boxes, seized from various homes of Gen Pongpat, Gen Kowit, and Col Akkharawut Limrat – whose death was cited as suicide – were transported to a military barracks in northern Bangkok, pending identification from Fine Arts Department experts on artifacts.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says

Caitlin Ashworth

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Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says | The Thaiger
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The 2 year old Burmese child, who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar, according to a report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department.

The department says they suspect the child was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya and quit their jobs last month. The department says the toddler probably contracted the virus around September 4 to September 10 while the family was travelling.

The family crossed natural, unofficial passageways into Myanmar. The news website Xinhua says it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

Those in Thailand who came in close contact with the family tested negative for the virus. 146 people who worked with the family at Ayutthaya migrant worker camps all tested negative for Covid-19. Those in close contact with the family in the Nakhon Ratchasima province, where the parents worked prior to Ayutthaya, tested negative as well. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

Health officials are still investigating 2 apparent local transmissions of Covid-19. Earlier this month, a Bangkok DJ tested positive for Covid-19, breaking Thailand’s 100 day streak without a local transmission. The DJ tested positive for G strain of the virus, a more infectious strain that is typically found in imported cases detected during state quarantine rather than local transmissions. Health officials do not know where the DJ contracted the virus.

A Uzbek football player for the Buriram United team recently tested positive for Covid-19. He was asymptomatic and tested negative for the virus multiple times during quarantine after he arrived to Thailand. Although it seems like a local transmission, some health officials speculate the virus has a longer incubation period than 14 days.

SOURCE:Xinhua

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Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020

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Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020 | The Thaiger

Daily video news about Thailand with Tim Newton

Get a visa or go to jail.

Thai Immigration Tourists, and anyone else with a lapsed visa, ha ve only 5 days to renew their visa or they could get arrested. The current visa amnesty ends on September 26 and there isn’t going to be another sudden announcement for another grace period, according to immigration officials. Those who overstay will face arrest and be deported back to their home countries. Immigration officials estimate there are more than 150,000 foreign nationals who need to have their tourist visas renewed. Immigration officials said today that people without a valid visa after September 26 could face jail.

“Overstaying the tourist visa is punishable by both a jail term and fine under the Immigration Act.”

Some foreigners who arrived on tourist visas earlier in the year have been in Thailand since late March when the Thai borders closed and many international flights were cancelled due to the world coronavirus pandemic. The visa amnesty was renewed twice since many people were unable to their home countries, but now the amnesty is coming to an end this Saturday.

There were hopes that the end of the visa amnesty could co-incide with the introduction of the new Special Tourist Visa so that those either unable to leave, due to lack of flights or problems returning to their home countries, could ‘roll over’ onto the new 90 day visas. But that has not been announced at this stage and remains just wishful thinking. The best thing you can do, if you don’t currently have a valid visa to stay in Thailand, is urgently contact your embassy, make an appointment online at your nearest Immigration office, or speak to a professional visa agent. But, be warned, there are plenty of scammers posting official looking urgent posts in social media offering to issue you with a visa so you can stay in Thailand. Do your homework before spending money with any visa agent.

Weekend protest rallies draw 30,000 people but no formal response

Protesters gathered from early Saturday morning at the Thammasat Tha Prachan campus. Although officially denied permission to hold their protest on the Campus grounds, the demonstrators stormed the campus’s gates, without resistance from onlooking police or security officials. By the afternoon the crowd had reached some 30,000 people, less than the 50,000 expected but a lot more than the 15,000 expected by government officials in the lead up to the Saturday rally. Largely peaceful the protesters sat in the wet season drizzle to listen to speeches and performances before marching together to the adjacent royal parade grounds of Sanam Luang. Here the protest continued under the watchful eye of police, all unarmed, who barricaded off sensitive areas of the historic parade grounds and access to the Grand Palace.

The protest continued into the night and punctuated the themes of political freedom, new Democratic elections, the dissolution of the Thai parliament and, controversially, reforms to the country’s revered monarchy. On Sunday morning there was a symbolic placement of a brass plaque to commemorate the event, seen as a replacement to a similar plaque that commemorated the Siam Revolution in 1932 that mysteriously vanished in 2017. The protesters then marched to the Privy Council to officially hand over a copy of their 10 point manifesto.

Meanwhile, 45,000 books – a collection of speeches and poems by some of the protest leaders – were seized in a nearby Bangkok house. The books were to be handed out to protesters. 5 people were arrested at the time.

Alcohol banned at national parks after complaints of trash and drunk tourists Alcohol is now banned at national parks after tourists allegedly got drunk at a waterfall and others left a load of trash by their campsite. Just last week, trash left at a campsite at Khao Yai National Park was boxed up in a parcel and sent back to the campers. Other tourists were allegedly drunk and making a lot of noise at the Namtok Samlan National Park, Varawut says. He says both groups of tourists face charges for their actions.

• Alcohol is banned at national parks for the time being

• Loud noise is not allowed after 9pm and noise must be stopped at 10pm

• When renting a tent, tourists must provide identification, address and phone number

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Protests

MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest

Caitlin Ashworth

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MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

A member of parliament filed a complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the weekend’s pro-democracy protest where activists demanded reform of the Thai Monarchy. He’s also putting together a legal team aimed at dissolving the members’ 3 opposition parties.

Palang Pracharat MP Sira Jenjakha says he has a photo of the 3 members raising their hands in a 3 finger salute, a symbol of resistance against the military run government. He says the protest was illegal, and the location, the Royal Field next to the Grand Palace, is off limits to unauthorised people.

He filed the complaint with the Chanasongkhram police against Mongkolkit Suksintharanont, of the Thai Civilized Party, Peerawit Ruangluedolapark, of the Thai Rak Thai Party and Nattha Boonchai-insawat of the Kao Klai Party.

A legal team assigned by Sira will collect evidence and file a petition with the Constitutional Court calling on the dissolution of the 3 opposition parties: Thai Civilized Party, Thai Rak Thai Party and Kao Klai Party.

He says he also plans to ask the House Speaker to investigate the 3 members to determine if they breached the parliament’s ethical conduct.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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