Crims in cops' clothing

In the game of cops and robbers, we think we know who the good guys are, but do we really? Criminals in uniform seems such a contradiction, but they are very much part of our society. In recent months, we have watched with much distress cops suspected of criminal activity being paraded in front of the media _ often caught for drugs or mafia activity. As suspects they are innocent until proven guilty, however, like the rest of us, they are not above the law, and if found to be guilty have to be brought to justice.

On the topic of suspected cops gone astray, one thinks of two cases in particular that have received their fair share of publicity. The first is the case of former Police Hospital physician Pol Col Supat Laohawattana, who was recently charged with the premeditated murder of a Myanmar labourer who worked on his pineapple orchard. The arrest warrant charged him with not just murder, but also with removing the deceased's body and concealing the cause of death.

The second case in point is the recent surrender of traffic policeman Pol Snr Sgt Maj Manas Seupho, a drug dealer cop, who had amassed millions of baht from smuggling drugs. He admitted that he did this for two years, earning 2 million baht for each delivery.

One tends to wonder how both men convinced themselves they were above the law. If strong incriminating evidence against both men proves to be true, both lived a life of greed, deception and violence.

I can feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up at the thought of how helpless the victims must have felt when the truth of the inevitability of their murder tendencies reared its ugly head and their lives were cut short. Their deaths are thought to have come at the hands of their employer, who was well liked by both his patients and subordinates.

Doctors turned killers would make an interesting study in human nature and any psychoanalyst would love to examine what makes them tick. Is it to do with their childhood experiences or multiple personality disorder or something else again? They are often known to have violent tempers, so the question arises as to how such traits were left unaddressed by the person's family and friends and how they got away playing Dr Jekell and Mr Hyde for so long. It is highly unlikely such cases will its rest in the cold files department as the relatives of the victims cry out for justice.

As an avid fan of murder mysteries, I once watched a film based on a true story _ 10 Rillington Place. Several young women were murdered and their bodies hidden under wooden boards, walls and many were unearthed in the backyard, years after the murders were committed. The murderers were a middle-aged couple who had befriended these ladies in their time of need after gaining their trust.

The murderer, John Christie, was truly a mastermind in planning the murders and eventually he framed the not-so-bright young husband of one of his last victims. Christie, who had previously been a member of the police force, knew the procedures of getting a confession from a suspect.

So when the naive husband was arrested and pressure was applied during interrogation, he broke down and signed a confession.

The sad part was that there was a miscarriage of justice and the young man was hanged for his wife's murder.

Years later when by chance the bodies were discovered the truth came to light and the police and judicial officers laid wreaths on his grave and asked his forgiveness. Such tragic irony. It seems that a wave of unpleasant revelations are cropping up, especially in the law enforcement department.

The case of Manas has once again put the spotlight on the Thai police force's urgent need to take greater responsibility in investigating their own people if there is reason for suspicion. Observing his affluent lifestyle from the beginning must have set off alarm bells.

It is difficult to fathom why none of his superiors or colleagues smelled a rat when he spread stories of inheriting wealth. To erase any suspicion, there should have been an inquiry.

Drug cases are seldom a one-man show, so the question haunting most is how he managed to smuggle drugs under the noses of narcotics police for as long as he did.

Manas is suspected of drug dealing on a huge scale, but it is yet to be seen just how many others have their fingers in the pie. He had amassed luxury cars, houses and land which have now been confiscated. One wonders if he had not been caught at a roadside checkpoint, would he ever have been apprehended?

Self-deception is at the brink of a downhill trend. In both instances the perpetrators in question felt they were above reproach and no one would dare accuse them.

I believe the element of fear must have also been used to silence anyone who even thought of tattling against them. Then circumstances suddenly changed and the wheels of justice began to turn.

It's heartening to know there are those in the police department committed to upholding the law and some bad apples will not tarnish their image, dedication and service.

From the aforementioned cases, one can decipher no one is above the law and that one's bad deeds eventually catch up to them _ fugitives on the run beware!


Yvonne Bohwongprasert is a feature writer with Life section.

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Writer: Yvonne Bohwongprasert
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