Immigration scandal officer to be prosecuted

BANGKOK: Investigations into the corruption scandal at the Patong Immigration Office have already nailed one officer, according to a highly-placed source in the Immigration Department in Bangkok. The source, who requested anonymity, told the Gazette today, “One Immigration officer [from Phuket] has been found to have behaved incorrectly. We will be bringing criminal charges against him. “Another officer is still under investigation.” Meanwhile, 15 foreigners who went to Bangkok over the past few days to reclaim their passports, seized by the Immigration Department as part of the investigation, received an unexpected shock. They were thrown into the Immigration Department’s jail. A German hotelier who spoke to the Gazette (like everyone else, on condition that his name not be used) explained that when he arrived at the Immigration Department headquarters with a group of four others, he was questioned about how he had received his most recent extension of stay, and which officers in Patong had provided the extension. “In the late afternoon we were moved to the detention center, photographed and then fingerprinted. “One person was released on bail of 50,000 baht. Another one, who had his lawyer with him, flew out to New York that evening.” All were issued with official documents explaining that they would be expelled from Thailand for overstaying, and ordering them to be held in the Immigration Detention Center until they could be put on a plane. “They told us that we would be expelled from Thailand and that in order to be able to leave the prison we had to buy tickets to our home countries. “They refused to inform our embassies, and we spent the night under very inhuman and humiliating conditions – there were 60 people in that cell.” The following day, however, the hotelier and the other two detainees – an American tourist and an Italian tourist – were released, with apologies from the officers, and had their passports returned. They were told that if they wished to remain in Thailand, they would have to do a “visa run”, paying the normal 200-baht-a-day fine for overstaying. The Immigration source said, “We detained 15 foreigners. We have the right to do that when people overstay. They were only detained for one night, and have all been released after the Commissioner ordered that all the foreigners involved in this case should be exempted from prosecution.” The remaining 30 or so foreigners who have yet to report to Immigration in Bangkok will, it seems, be able to get their passports back without spending a night in the cells.

Phuket News

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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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