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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Akeyuth murder mired in complicity; Supercar importers in tax spin; Borrowing the Burmese White Elephant; Ramadan ceasefire; School’s out

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Akeyuth murder mired in complicity; Supercar importers in tax spin; Borrowing the Burmese White Elephant; Ramadan ceasefire; School’s out | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Akeyuth murder motive more than ‘theft’: Panel
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Senate panel on human rights yesterday called on the Royal Thai Police to change the chief investigator in the case involving the murder of businessman and government critic Akeyuth Anchanbutr.

Somchai Sawaengkarn, chairman of the Senate committee on human rights, liberty and consumer protection, said the chief investigator, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Pol Lt-General Kamronwit Thupkrajang, had personal conflicts with Akeyuth and should be taken off the case.

The senator noted that Kamronwit and Akeyuth had sued each other in the past, and hence the former should not oversee the probe.

Somchai also called on police to allow non-partisan agencies, including the Law Society of Thailand and the National Human Rights Commission, to join in the investigation.

He said it was premature for police to conclude that Akeyuth was killed for the Bt5 million he was carrying, because his attackers did not take any other valuables from his house. Somchai said valuables on Akeyuth’s property amounted to more than Bt5 million and could have been taken away far more easily.

Somchai said police had not yet released details about the house in the Lat Krabang area where the perpetrators had allegedly held Akeyuth before his murder. He said that he believed the murder was more complicated than the robbery theory put forward by the police.

He said the Senate panel had discussed the murder and agreed in principle to summon persons involved to testify.

During discussions, the Senate panel agreed that the government should provide people with better measures of protection. The senators said that though Akeyuth was disliked by many, there was no reason to murder him.

Kamronwit yesterday rejected criticism that police were not pursuing the real motive behind the murder.

After a meeting with National Police chief General Adul Saengsing-kaew on the development of the case, Kamronwit held a press conference at which he insisted that the motive behind Akeyuth’s killing was the Bt5 million and that it was not politically motivated, as believed by Akeyuth’s family and lawyer.

“I do not care about allegations that police are trying to wrap up the case quickly by making it a ‘theft’ case. Police are carrying out their duties to the best of their abilities,’ Kamronwit said.

Akeyuth’s family and his lawyer had earlier said they believed the murder was politically motivated, since the businessman had long been a critic of the government and a whistleblower against the Thaksin Shinawatra regime. His latest message on his Facebook page in May referred to the money-laundering activities of Thai politicians and bureaucrats in the UK.

Kamronwit said police believed four people were involved in the murder: three had been arrested and Suthipong “Berm” Pimpisal, who is a key suspect, was still at large. Police yesterday continued their hunt for him as other suspects gave statements that he was the man who strangled Akeyuth to death with rope.

Kamronwit denied reports that police had already arrested Suthipong, saying he was probably still somewhere in Bangkok. He added that since Suthipong was a key suspect, there were fears that he could be silenced before being apprehended.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Court has allowed Ithipol Pengduang, 51, and Jitampai Pengduang, 48 – parents of Santiparb – to be released on bail of Bt100,000 each. The two have been charged with receiving stolen money between June 13-24. Santiparb reportedly gave the Bt5 million to his parents to hide. Police initially refused to grant their release on bail on grounds that most of the stolen money had not yet been found. It was feared they might destroy the evidence or flee with the stolen cash.

Kamronwit said police had so far only recovered Bt420,000 of the stolen Bt5 million.

Assistant National Police Pol Lt-General Charamporn Suramani said fingerprint test results showed that the body unearthed in Phatthalung was that of Akeyuth. DNA taken from the body also matched that of Akeyuth’s family members.

7 firms fingered in supercar tax evasion
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) has found seven major vehicle importers fudging their financial figures to evade taxes, including one suspected of involvement in the recent accidental burning of exotic cars being trucked in Nakhon Ratchasima.

The seven firms actually had sales worth over Bt11 billion in 2011 but stated only Bt4 billion, denying the country tax income from these imports, AMLO chief Sihanart Prayoonrat said yesterday in reporting on his agency’s progress in checking the transactions of 222 luxury auto importers.

AMLO would proceed with probing 200 other companies and submit the results to the Revenue Department to audit them and collect back-taxes from them.

If the Customs Department confirms that these companies also falsely declared items or their values they would be also guilty of violating the anti-money laundering law and their assets could be seized. The case of the burned cars is being handled separately by the Department of Special Investigation.

Thailand, Myanmar mull exchange of white elephant
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Thailand plans to borrow a white elephant from Myanmar as a symbol to mark 65 years of bilateral ties between the countries, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul said yesterday.

Surapong said the Thai delegation discussed the idea with Myanmar’s Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin during this week’s Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation meeting in Bali.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries will reach their 65th anniversary next year, and Surapong said an “auspicious” white elephant might play the symbolic role of a good-will ambassador, following in the footsteps of China’s “panda ambassador” Lin Ping. The elephant could be displayed in Chiang Mai Zoo for six months to boost tourism, he said.

The Myanmar ambassador told Surapong that he would discuss the matter with the Nay Pyi Taw government.

Surapong also reported his discussion with U Wunna Maung Lwin on the European Union’s wish for Thailand to aid some 2,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar for Thailand this year.

The Myanmar minister assured him that a working team, led by Myanmar’s ambassador to Thailand, was set to begin the process of verifying the Rohingya’s nationality next week. Four months of the six-month period designated for Thailand to aid the Rohingya had already passed, so the identification process would aim for completion in two months, he said.

Surapong added that he had told EU representatives that Thailand had given what humanitarian aid it could to the Rohingya, but it was not a rich country. The EU should also help take in these immigrants, and not just leave them as Thailand’s sole responsibility, he said.

Insurgents agree to suspend violence during Ramadan
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Loose electrical wire causes passing motorbike to burst into flames – VIDEO

Caitlin Ashworth

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Loose electrical wire causes passing motorbike to burst into flames – VIDEO | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

A hanging electrical wire caused a passing motorbike to burst into flames, injuring a 25 year old and a 15 year old. Pathum Thani locals had put 2 chairs out in the road as a warning for the hanging wire. But the chairs weren’t enough to signal the motorbike driver to change lanes.

The 25 year old teacher drove straight into the loose wire and his bike burst into flames. 30% of his body was burned. The 15 year old passenger was slightly injured, Thai media reports. Apparently, it was the second time the loose wire caused a bike to catch on fire.

A former rescue worker was on his way home when the incident occurred. He had a fire extinguisher in his car and was able to quickly put out the fire. The dash camera on his car recorded the incident, showing the motorbike suddenly bursting into flames.

SOURCE: Thai Visa

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Drugs

240 kilograms of marijuana found in truck after police chase, driver still on the run

Caitlin Ashworth

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240 kilograms of marijuana found in truck after police chase, driver still on the run | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Esan Daily Online

Border patrol officers chased a pickup truck and seized 240 kilograms of marijuana they say was smuggled across the Thai-Laos border. In the chase, the driver allegedly drove into oncoming traffic, hitting another car before ditching his vehicle and running off.

Officers say they believe the marijuana was smuggled across the Mekong River from Laos and then it was piled in the truck at the border province Nong Khai. After receiving a tip about a truck smuggling marijuana in the Nong Khai province, officers caught up with the truck in Mukdahan.

When officers followed the bronze Toyota pickup truck, the truck suddenly swerved across the median and drove against the flow of traffic before colliding with an oncoming car. The driver then got out of the truck and ran off. Police say there were no injuries.

Officers searched the truck and found 240 bars of dried marijuana. Each compressed bar weighed 1 kilogram. The truck was also confiscated by the customs office. Police are still investigating. The driver has not been found.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Politics

Former immigration chief, “Big Joke” suing Thai PM over transfer

Maya Taylor

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Former immigration chief, “Big Joke” suing Thai PM over transfer | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.thailandtip.info

The former head of Thai Immigration, Surachet Hakparn, is taking legal action against Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, after the PM had him unceremoniously transferred to an inactive post last year. Surachet, commonly known by the nickname “Big Joke”, (a nickname given to him by Thai media) accuses the PM of transferring him without just cause and has been petitioning for a review of the decision, to no avail.

At the time there was no reason given for the high-profile head of Thailand’s Immigration to be ‘side-lined’ to desk duties at the PM’s office.

Following a complaint lodged with the Central Administrative Court, Surachet’s lawyer, Sitthi Ngarmlamyuang, says that in the 1 year and 5 months since his client’s transfer, there has been “no investigation launched against him”. Surachet accuses the PM of an abuse of power in ordering the transfer, pointing to a lack of investigations from either the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission, or the Office of the Auditor-General.

Since his fall from official grace Surachet has largely remained silent over the matter.

At the height of his fame, in 2017 and 2018, Surachet’s face was everywhere in daily media reports, often seen with hordes of foreigners his team had ’rounded up’ in immigration crackdowns around the country. If you’d overstayed your visa, or were an international criminal running dodgy dating services, gambling sites or drugs, you knew about Surachet Hakparn and knew it would be no “joke” if he arrived at your door.

But at some point, he appears to have stepped on the wrong toes, calling into question procurement practices at the Immigration Bureau, amid plans to spend billions on smart cars and the much-lauded airports biometrics system (which was since installed at the country’s airports). The upshot was his removal from office, while the purchases went ahead.

Since then, little was heard from the former immigration chief, until his parked car was shot at in January of this year. Although caught on CCTV, the 2 perpetrators, who were riding a motorbike and wearing full-face helmets, could not be identified. In July, Surachet was seen making merit at a temple, where he said he was praying to be allowed return to his former duties. He also took an extended overseas holiday.

At the height of his fame, in 2017 and 2019, he was widely tipped to take up a prominent position at the top of the country’s Royal Thai Police force.

Sitthi points out that most officials who were previously transferred to the PM’s Office have now been re-instated, after investigations cleared them of any offences. He insists that with no grounds to justify his transfer, Surachet must also be re-instated, adding that with the PM unwilling to act, his client will seek justice in the courts.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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