Tarit refuses to attend House hearing

A House committee has threatened to force Department of Special Investigation chief Tarit Pengdith to testify, after the DSI chief failed for a second time Wednesday to appear at a hearing on the "men in black" of the 2010 political violence.

  • Published: 6/03/2013 at 09:12 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

The panel agreed to summon Mr Tarit again on March 13. If he fails to show for a third time, the committee could take legal action to try to force him to testify.

“Mr Tarit’s reason [for not appearing] is not convincing," said Watchara Petchtong, deputy chairman of the House committee on politics, communication and public participation. "He claimed he was occupied with a meeting with delegates from the New Zealand Police.”

Mr Watchara, a Democrat Party list MP, said the committee would enforce the 2011 Summons Act for committees of the House and Senate. It carries penalties including imprisonment and fines if a witness refuses to testify three times.

Mr Tarit could be the first civil servant charged under the law, he said. 

Mr Watchara denied an allegation by Mr Tarit that he had expelled three other witnesses. Mr Tarit sent Pol Lt Col Wannapong Kocharak, director of the DSI's Office of Financial and Banking Cases, and two other officers, to testify before the committee in his place. 

Mr Watchara said he had only "invited" the three men to leave the meeting because the panel had informed Mr Tarit it expected him to testify in person.

This was because the DSI chief is currently the only DSI member who was present as an official of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES), which handled security operations during the 2010 riots, he explained. 

The committee first asked Mr Tarit to appear on Feb 27 "to clarify issues relating to the armed men in black", but he begged off, claiming he had more pressing official business to attend to.

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