It has taken five years to crack seven major criminal cases in Prachin Buri leading to the arrest of a prominent provincial councillor and accomplices linked to election-related murders and bid collusion.
Four suspects charged with organising bid collusion in Prachin Buri are brought before reporters at the Provincial Police Region 2 headquarters in Chon Buri.
When Pol Lt Gen Winai Thongsong crossed over as chief of Provincial Police Region 1 to Provincial Police Region 2 (PPR2) in October, he dusted off several unsolved criminal files.
These cases comprised seven murders and attempted murders in Prachin Buri.
One of them related to a businessman who was shot and killed on Sept 22 behind the provincial administration organisation building moments after he entered into a bid for a state project.
His main competitors were a group of firms affiliated to local politicians. At least one of them had the support of a national politician.
The PPR2 bureau found six prior murder and attempted murder cases that had taken place in the province since 2007 involved disputes in local elections, which might have implicated local politicians.
On Dec 20, 2007, a member of a tambon administration organisation in Bang Krabao of Ban Sang district was shot dead at his home.
He was the canvasser of a candidate who stood against local politicians in power.
On Aug 2, 2008, the tambon Prachan Takham kamnan was gunned down at his home after he refused to support a candidate backed by an influential figure.
The following year, a man was shot dead after testifying to the election committee about a vote fraud incident which resulted in an MP candidate being disqualified in Prachin Buri.
On March 2, 2011, the chairman of Tha Tum tambon administration organisation was critically injured when his car exploded. Foul play was suspected. He was seeking a second term in office and stood against a candidate supported by a local politician.
On April 6, 2011, an influential man was killed in a gun attack by his underling over an alleged drug deal. Police believed the case is linked to a local politician.
On March 20 this year, a candidate was shot dead as he was running for the village headman seat in tambon Prachan Takham. His rival was a candidate supported by a local politician.
The seven major criminal cases, according to investigators, traced back to a group of people including politicians who wield a great deal of influence in Prachin Buri.
Police believed they had a strong case against Tempong Ritdet, 36, a provincial councillor, who is the alleged strongman among the group's members.
The investigators also believed the group allegedly controlled by Mr Tempong was involved in many local election-related cases in which victims were threatened or harmed.
Undercover police posed as bidders in an auction of a multi-million baht construction project of the Prachin Buri provincial administration organisation.
The undercover officers were allegedly threatened by Mr Tempong's group which supported another bidder.
The group allegedly offered to pay the officers to opt out of the contest. They then transferred money to the officers' bank accounts, which provided vital evidence in the bid collusion case.
On Dec 12, the court approved warrants for the arrest of Mr Tempong and nine other accomplices on the bid collusion charges.
The next day, police raided Mr Tempong's house in Prachin Buri's Muang district.
He and three other people facing arrest warrants were arrested.
Police also seized a shotgun and bullets. The four suspects denied any wrongdoing.
However, none of the suspects have been charged with murder or attempted murder. Pol Lt Gen Winai said investigators were compiling more evidence on the charges. The bureau chief said he was confident the police will be able to nab other suspects soon.
Contact Crime Track: email@example.com
About the author
- Writer: Wassayos Ngamkham