Case ends with the arrest of Kamnan Poh

Police and the Medical Council have indicated that no action will be taken against officials and a hospital in connection with the arrest of fugitive Somchai Khunploem on Wednesday.

The capture of Somchai, alias Kamnan Poh, threw up questions about those involved in his furtive return to Thailand and hospital treatment. They include those who sheltered him in Chon Buri, police in his home province and Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, who treated him under the false name of Kim sae Tung.

Pol Maj Gen Supisarn Bhakdinarinath, chief of the Crime Suppression Division (CSD), on Thursday hinted that police would not take their sting operation any further after putting the former influential figure in jail.

Those who sheltered him had no ill intention because they showed gratitude to Somchai, he said. Police had insufficient evidence to pinpoint that they were cooperating with him to obstruct the police, he added.

Witthaya Khumploem visits his father, Somchai alias Kamnan Poh, at the hospital of the Corrections Department on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Khao Sod)

The CSD had contacted the hospital to get information about the patient and was not accusing the hospital of helping Somchai who fled after being sentenced to jail.

"Police have contacted Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital for the medical information on Somchai but the hospital did not reveal it. The CSD is considering asking court permission to get it to assist the case," he added.

Somchai was treated at the hospital for health problems including high blood pressure and diabetes by using a false name. It raised the question of whether the hospital realised who he was.

Pol Lt Gen Pongpat Chayaphan, commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), left the issue for the CSD to follow up and reiterated that the arrest was not politically motivated.

President of the Medical Council, Amnaj Kussalanan, defended the hospital, saying that in general all hospitals record only information provided by patients and they could not check it, Thai News Agency reported.

Dr Amnaj was certain the hospital had treated him without the knowledge that he was on the run from jail terms. Checking the information of patients was the responsibility of the Health Service Support Department, he said.

But the council would discuss with hospitals ways to end the problem of patients using fake identities for treatment, he added.

Somchai was arrested at the outbound tollgate of the motorway in Lat Krabang after a visit to Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital.

Department deputy director-general Tares Krassanairawiwong did not question the motive of the hospital in receiving Somchai for treatment, saying that it had good intentions to help the patient.

The background of Somchai was difficult to check as he gave a false name and did not seek to use health funds or medical insurance for his treatment, he added.

Somchai was arrested after tip-offs that he was seen in Chon Buri. But the arrest was made in Bangkok in a joint operation of the CSD and CIB, instead of police in the province.

Pol Lt Gen Winai Thongson, chief of the Provincial Police Region 2, said police in his office's jurisdiction had no evidence that Somchai was in Chon Buri and therefore he will not set up a panel to probe Chon Buri police for possible dereliction of duty.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung did not question whether local police turned a blind eye to arresting Somchai earlier but instead praised officers for capturing him on Wednesday.

Somchai is undergoing treatment at the hospital of the Corrections Department after being transferred from Bangkok Remand Prison.

His wife, Satil, his sons, Witthaya and Ittipol, and friends visited him on Thursday.

In March last year the Supreme Court upheld the sentence against Somchai for masterminding the murder of political rival Prayoon Sitthichoke at a wedding reception in March 2003. He was jailed for 25 years.

The Criminal Court found him guilty of plotting the murder in June 2004. The ruling was confirmed by the Appeal Court in October 2006.

Somchai went on the run in early 2006, shortly before he was sentenced in absentia by the Supreme Court to five years and four months in prison for corruption involving the 1992 sale of a site in a forest reserve in tambon Khao Mai Kaew for use as a garbage dump.

The combined jail sentence for his two cases is 30 years and four months.

He was believed to have fled to Cambodia and rumours said he often returned to Chon Buri.

Related search: Somchai Khunploem, Kamnan Poh, arrest, Medical Council

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