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Patong police beatings under investigation

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Patong police beatings under investigation | Thaiger

PATONG: Officers from Kathu Police Station met yesterday with representatives of the Tara Patong Hotel to discuss the March 13 beatings of five employees of the hotel by undercover police. “We asked the police for two things,” said Sutham Saejea, personnel manager of the hotel. “First, we asked for 550,000 baht compensation for the victims and their families, and, second, we asked that the seven policemen be removed from Kathu Police Station. “The police told us that they would give the victims some money, but that they could not be sure if it would be the whole amount. We’ll see about that in three days’ time. They also promised that they would remove the policemen involved,” Sutham said. But Pol Col Kokiat Wongworachart, superintendent of Kathu Police Station, told the Gazette a different story. He said that the officers attended the meeting to clear the air, to understand the other side of the story, and to hear what the hotel wanted. “We still have to question the two last men [Tara Patong employees Piyapong Kwanmuang and Sahakij Payakka]. Earlier neither of them was able to speak with us. But now Sahakij is out of the hospital, so we should hear from him soon,” said Col Kokiat. He said that there appeared to be inconsistencies between the police officers’ version of the incident and the victims’. “[The victims] said that there were seven undercover officers that day. But the undercover police said that there were only four or five of them at the disco. “Also, some of the undercover officers told me that they were not in the disco; they were nearby, and only ran in there after they heard the gun shot. “But if, in the end, they are found guilty, then we will have to take action against them,” said Col Kokiat. Piyapong, a room boy at the Tara Patong, is still in Wachira Phuket Hospital. He is guarded by a man sent down from Bangkok by his uncle, Pol Maj Gen Asawin Kwanmuang, the Commissioner of the Crime Suppression Division. “He still has severe headaches. He was hit around the head with a piece of wood, and some of his teeth are broken,” said K. Sutham. Sahakij left Wachira Hospital on Sunday, said K. Sutham, but is still suffering from stomach pains. Winai Sumpaothong, who was earlier thought to have had his back broken after being battered with a steel bar, was also discharged from the hospital after doctors found that his injuries were confined to severe bruising on his back and face. The beatings recall an incident of horrific police misconduct in April 1998 when two Cherng Talay police officers, Sgt Boonmak Singhasangha and Cpl Subancha Pudphol, severely beat up a 28-year-old villager, Pichaet Kungkaew. Pichaet met the two officers in a bar in an attempt to get back 500 baht which Sgt Boonmak had extorted from his father. He was beaten and handcuffed in the bar, then dragged to the police station where he was thrown into a cell and received a further beating. At one point, Sgt Boonmak placed his service revolver into Pichaet’s mouth and threatened to kill him. Pichaet spent 12 days in hospital recovering from the beating. The two officers were subsequently dismissed from the police force.

 

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