Court rejects 6 sex ring warrant bids

Court rejects 6 sex ring warrant bids

State officials must be summonsed, it says

Five suspects charged in connection with the Mae Hong Son sex trafficking scandal appear at the Royal Thai Police in Bangkok for further questioning. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Five suspects charged in connection with the Mae Hong Son sex trafficking scandal appear at the Royal Thai Police in Bangkok for further questioning. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

The provincial court in Mae Hong Son on Wednesday denied a request seeking warrants for the arrest of six state officials for their alleged involvement in the province's sex-trafficking scandal.

In the request lodged by the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (ATPD) on April 29, the six comprise five police officers including a lieutenant colonel attached to Provincial Police Region 5 and a lieutenant attached to a special operations unit, and a teacher.

The court rejected the request on the grounds the suspects are active state officials, instructing the investigators to issue summons for them to answer the charges. The suspects were not identified.

Deputy police spokesman Kritsana Pattanacharoen said Wednesday the court approved 12 arrest warrants for 11 other people linked to the ring.

One of the suspects, Yutthachai Thongchart, a local police senior sergeant-major from Nam Phieng Din station, has two arrest warrants against him.

Of the 12 arrest warrants, four were sought by Provincial Police Region 5 and the suspects who were police officers were suspended from duty to ease the investigation. The remaining eight were sought by the ATPD which handles part of the investigation.

The ATPD Wednesday brought five suspects apprehended on Tuesday to the Royal Thai Police for questioning, attended by deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul.

The suspects, one man and four women, faced several charges including sex trafficking of teenagers aged between 15-18 and luring them into obscene acts.

They allegedly conspired with Yutthachai Thongchart, a local police senior sergeant-major from Nam Phieng Din station, in the prostitution ring.

Pol Snr Sgt Maj Yutthachai was among the first three suspects apprehended. The two others were alleged female procurers.

In a related development Wednesday, child and women rights activist Ticha Na Nakorn slammed investigators in the sex trafficking scandal who she said planned to force one of the victims to undergo a lie detector test.

Ms Ticha questioned the police handling of the case and their motive.

"A victim can be asked to undergo a lie detector test. But how could it help the justice administration process? An obligation to prove the truth doesn't lie with the victim, so putting one through a lie detector is pressuring her and witnesses," she said.

Ms Ticha asked why Mae Hong Son governor Suebsak Iamwicharn would not have to undergo a lie detector test. Mr Suebsak was among the officials accused of involvement in the sex scandal and he was transferred to an inactive post at the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Interior, pending a probe.

Meanwhile, a 20-year-old woman has been arrested in Bangkok Yai district on charges of procuring underage girls for prostitution and taking underage girls from their parents, police said.

The arrest of Thippaya Samangsri was made after the mother of a 14-year-old girl lodged a complaint with Buppharam police station accusing her of luring girls into prostitution.

According to police, Ms Thippaya befriended the 14-year-old victim on Facebook and lured her into the flesh trade.

After an arrangement was made, she put the victim into a taxi and gave the driver the destination.

Ms Thippaya was given 500 baht for her part in the trade, police said, adding the investigation was being widened to find the customers.

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