'Joe Ferrari' denies all accusations
Lawyers say justice process warped
Pol Col Thitisan Utthanaphon has denied all accusations made against him over a high-profile case involving the alleged fatal torture of a drug suspect at Nakhon Sawan's Muang police station, according to his lawyer.
Lawyer Chokechai Angkaew said Pol Col Thitisan denied the charges during police questioning and vowed to fight the case in court.
His denial stood in stark contrast to the remarks he made when he phoned in and spoke to reporters during a press conference on Thursday night.
The former police station chief, also known as "Joe Ferrari", surrendered to police at the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok earlier on Thursday evening.
During the press conference, Pol Col Thitisan admitted ordering the partial suffocation of Chiraphong Thanapat -- a 24-year-old drug suspect -- with plastic bags during interrogation, but said the motive was not to extort money from him.
"It is the right of the suspect [to deny the charges],'' Mr Chokechai said while refusing to reveal what charges were brought against Pol Col Thitisan.
The Lawyers Association of Thailand (LAT) on Saturdaycriticised senior officers for allowing Pol Col Thitisan to speak to reporters during the press conference at the CSD on Thursday night.
"This is tantamount to giving the suspect more rights than the law allows. This is against the law,'' the LAT said.
Previously, senior police were also accused of using the press conference to shield Pol Col Thitisan, triggering public suspicion, particularly on social media, that he might eventually be spared punishment.
The LAT also said Pol Col Thitisan's remarks during the press conference could be seen as excuses or as him asking for sympathy.
"The remarks could influence public feeling or investigators, while damaged parties and witnesses may also be pressured, which could affect the justice process,'' the LAT said.
The association also said that investigators must find out who drove Pol Col Thitisan to meet Pol Maj Gen Ekarak Limsangkat, deputy commissioner of the Provincial Police Region 6, in Chon Buri last Wednesday.
"The driver is a key witness in the case and investigators must find out the details,'' the LAT said.
Pol Maj Gen Ekarak told the press conference that he could not remember the licence plate number of the white car which Pol Col Thitisan left.