PATONG: Kathu Police raided the Uncle Charlie’s Boys nightclub on Soi Paradise last Saturday night and arrested two employees on charges of pandering, including arranging the provision of sexual services by boys under 15 years of age.
The bar owners, a father-and-son team, were later arrested on six charges, including violations of the Penal Code and Labour Act.
Police have also filed a request with the Governor’s office to close down the club permanently.
Pol Lt Pratuang Pholmana of Kathu Police said the raid followed an operation by undercover female officers who entered the bar posing as customers seeking to buy sexual favors.
In the bar they found some 20 alleged male prostitutes, some lined up on a dancing stage wearing only white shorts affixed with employee numbers.
Using banknotes with pre-recorded serial numbers, the officers paid for sexual services from six boys under 18 years of age, including two 14-year-olds, and then made the arrests.
Police arrested Ritt Tangsab, 40, and Direk Jongcharoen, 23, on procuring charges as defined in Section 282 of the Penal Code. When it involves prostitutes not over the age of 15, the offense is punishable by a maximum jail sentence of 20 years and a maximum fine of 40,000 baht.
The fact that the boys willingly engaged in prostitution has little bearing on the charges, including such Labour Act violations as employing service staff under 18 years of age and failing to keep personnel files, he said.
Both men carried the government’s “bail insurance” and were released on bonds of 200,000 baht on Saturday.
Police later arrested bar owner Tawee Kingjampa, 59, and his son Tiwa, 35, who were not in the venue at the time of the raid. They were charged with one violation of the Penal Code, for procuring, and five violations of the Labour Act.
After an initial court hearing yesterday, both were released on bail, the amount of which was not disclosed.
Lt Pratuang said that the pair denied the charges and refused to comment further, saying they would speak on the matter only in court.
One of the arresting officers, Pol Maj Serm Kwannimit, said the arrest came as part of a government crackdown on bars that provide child prostitutes to customers.
Kathu Police Superintendent Pol Col Teeraphol Thipjaroen said an inspection of bars in Kathu revealed Uncle Charlie’s Boys was the only one offering the services of underage male prostitutes.
Kathu Police have filed a request that the bar be closed permanently. The decision as to whether to close, and for how long, rests with the Governor, who has yet to inform Kathu Police of his decision.
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