Police extortion case fast-tracked

Police extortion case fast-tracked

Pol Maj Gen Thakoon Natepukkana, chief of Surat Thani police, chairs a meeting on Friday with investigators handling the case of alleged extortion by three police officers. (Photo: Supapong Chaolan)
Pol Maj Gen Thakoon Natepukkana, chief of Surat Thani police, chairs a meeting on Friday with investigators handling the case of alleged extortion by three police officers. (Photo: Supapong Chaolan)

SURAT THANI: Investigators have been told to speed up their probe into allegations that three police officers demanded 5 million baht from a trader in exchange for dropping charges relating to the purchase of baby cockles from local fishermen.

The report will be submitted to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

The accused officers are attached to Provincial Police Region 8.

Pol Maj Gen Thakoon Natepukkana, chief of Surat Thani police, said on Friday the investigation was being headed by Pol Col Wirun Suwannawong, deputy provincial police commander . 

"The panel has been instructed to be thorough and without compromise. Their report will be submitted to the NACC as soon as possible. The probe will be speeded up. It will take 3-4 days to complete,’’ the provincial police chief said.

Provincial Police Region 8 had also set up a separate disciplinary panel to investigate the three officers, who would be transferred to the police regional office in Phuket, Pol Maj Gen Thakoon said.

The accused officers are Pol Capt Adisak Chuprasert, Pol Snr Sgt Maj Phichate Churat, and Pol Snr Sgt Maj Thanyapong Tanwiriyawong.

On Wednesday, about 200 angry fishermen in tambon Tha Thong Mai of  Surat Thani's Kanchanadit district surrounded a police vehicle after they heard that the three officers had tried to extort money from trader Anucha Binmusa.

Police reinforcements were sent to the scene to negotiate with the locals, who later dispersed.

Mr Anucha, 46, a cockle trader, later filed a complaint with local police against the three officers, acusing them of demanding money in exchange for dropping charges over the purchase of baby cockles they claimed had been harvested illegally.

Mr Anucha said the cockles were harvested by local fishermen from the Tapi River.

The three officers had seized 23 sacks containing 700kg of baby cockles worth about 500,000 baht.

They claimed the shellfish had been illegally caught and demanded 5 million baht to drop the charges, according to the complaint filed by Mr Anucha.

Angfry fishermen surround a police vehicle after three police allegedly tried to extort money from a cockle trader in Kanchanadit district, Surat Thani on Wednesday. (Photo: Supapong Chaolan)


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