PHUKET TOWN: A group of four men from Patong today alleged that police officers in the town had falsely accused them of betting on soccer and coerced them into providing “evidence” for their own conviction. Suwat “Dong” Kitsa-nga, 33, a roadside vendor, and three of his employees made the accusations to leaders of the Phuket Reporters Association (PRA) at the PRA headquarters at the Provincial Hall. K. Suwat said that his employees had all, at different times, been arrested, forced to confess to gambling, and then fined. The latest incident took place on Saturday, he said. An elderly employee, “Natee”, was grabbed by police outside the Ocean shopping mall in Soi Bangla. “I was just buying some food at KFC when the police grabbed me on the way out,” said Natee, still visibly shaken by the experience. “They took me down to the station and accused me of soccer gambling. They took my cellphone and looked for numbers on it.” Natee said he asked the police if someone else could take his place in the cells. They agreed to this, and Natee called his nephew, Chairat, who also works for Suwat. Chairat said that after he arrived, the police forced him to write a fake ‘poi’ – a betting slip. “The police said I must write a poi or they wouldn’t let me or my uncle leave.” Chaiwat said, “They locked me up for 36 hours before taking me to court, along with the poi, which they presented as evidence.” Convicted of gambling, Chairat was fined 750 baht. Natee alleged that, in addition, police insisted he pay 500 baht before they would let him leave the police station. Officials of the PRA agreed to help the four men write an official letter of complaint to the Governor of Phuket and to the Superintendent of Patong Police Station.
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