Inquiry clears Korat police for use of van seen at Phetchaburi beach

Inquiry clears Korat police for use of van seen at Phetchaburi beach

Images from a video show the parked police van from Phon Krang police station in Nakhon Ratchasima, and police in plain clothes eating, at Cha-am beach in Phetchaburi province on Friday. (Images supplied to Prasit Tangprasert)
Images from a video show the parked police van from Phon Krang police station in Nakhon Ratchasima, and police in plain clothes eating, at Cha-am beach in Phetchaburi province on Friday. (Images supplied to Prasit Tangprasert)

NAKHON RATCHASIMA: An inquiry has cleared police in Nakhon Ratchasima over the use of a police van seen at a Phetchaburi beach. They were on assignment to pick up a murder suspect.

Pol Maj Gen Paisarn Luesomboon, deputy commissioner of the Provincial Police Region 3,  said the inquiry panel reported that an officer at Phon Krang police station in Muang district had been contacted by a fugitive, Sawai Khanpakwaen. He was wanted for the fatal shooting of his wife and her son in Nakhon Ratchasima 10 years ago.

The contact had been made via Line Chat app on Sept 10.

The suspect said he was working in Surat Thani and had a problem. He wanted to surrender and asked the officer to pick him up.

Mr Sawai is a former chairman of tambon Pho Klang administration organisation in Muang district of Nakhon Ratchasima. He was named in an arrest warrant issued by the provincial court on May 20, 2011.

He is accused of shooting dead his wife Wanida Setaputta, 49, a councillor for Nakhon Ratchasima provincial administration organisation’s zone 5, and her son from a previous marriage, Jetsada Setaputta, 29.

The suspect fled after the shooting. Investigators from Provincial Police Region 8 arrested him in Phunphin district of Surat Thani on Thursday.

The inquiry followed criticism on social media, with police from Nakhon Ratchasima accused of using a police van for personal use. 

video posted on Friday showed men and women in holiday clothing getting out of a  Nakhon Ratchasima police van at Cha-am beach, sitting in beach chairs and eating.  

People who watched it commented that their use of the police vehicle appeared inappropriate.

The van belonged to Phon Krang police station in Muang district of the northeastern province, 425 kilometres from Cha-am.

The posting of the video and the public comments prompted the Provincial Police Region3 chief to order an inquiry.

Pol Maj Gen Paisarn said the officer who received the Line Chat message notified his superior, Pol Col Songwut Saiboon, chief of Phon Krang police station, and was given permission to use the van to pick up the suspect. The officer coordinated with Provincial Police Region 8.

On Sept 15, the police van from Phon Krang left Nakhon Ratchasima for Surat Thani province and arrived in Prachuap Khiri Khan on Sept 16. The officer leading the team then learned that investigators from Provincial Police Region 8 had already arrested the suspect and would take him to Nakhon Ratchasima.

So the van from Phon Krang turned around and headed back home. They stopped on the way for a meal at Cha-am beach in Phetchaburi province on Friday, where someone videotaped them and posted it online.

Pol Maj Gen Paisarn said the police van was being used for official duties, not personal use.


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