Disgraced officer 'seized 400 cars'

Disgraced officer 'seized 400 cars'

The Customs Department yesterday said Pol Col Thitisan Utthanaphon, the police officer accused of torturing and killing a drug suspect in custody, was eligible to be rewarded for seizing almost 400 illegal cars over the course of six years.

Patchara Anuntasilpa, director-general of the department, said records showed Pol Col Thitisan confiscated 368 illegal vehicles, including high-end cars, from 2011–2017.

Of the total, 363 were sold in auctions, which raked in about 1 billion baht, Mr Patchara said. A total of 30% of the proceeds are allocated to people who provide clues to the authorities while 25% goes to arresting officers, including police and customs agents, he said. Mr Patchara said Pol Col Thitisan was eligible for rewards for seizing the cars.

He said the department could not disclose further information about the recipients but would forward additional information to the authorities.

The department's move apparently followed media reports that police found 13 luxury cars worth more than 100 million baht in total at Pol Col Thitisan's 60-million-baht house. Known as "Joe Ferrari", Pol Col Thitisan's case also prompted the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to step in.

Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, spokesman for the NACC, said Pol Col Thitisan faces two probes -- one involving abuse of authority and another involving unusual wealth. Anti-graft officials are gathering the facts, Mr Niwatchai said.

The 30-year-old and six other police are accused of torture and killing a drug suspect while trying to extort 2 million baht from the suspect.

Mr Niwatchai said the abuse of authority probe over the fate of the drug suspect is being sought by the anti-graft agency's Region 6, and the NACC has yet to determine whether the case falls under its jurisdiction.

A source at the NACC said allegations of bribe-taking and use of nominees in holding assets worth over 200 million baht will also be forwarded to the NACC's subcommittee on assets inspection.

Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution, yesterday submitted a petition to the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission asking it to investigate Pol Col Thitisan and the six others.

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