Police to quiz sidelined DSI chief over dodgy raid
Investigators unsure who was ultimately in charge of operation where bribes were allegedly taken
published : 24 Jan 2023 at 18:51
writer: Online Reporters
Police are preparing to question Traiyarit Temahiwong, the recently transferred head of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), about alleged bribery involving his subordinates during a raid on a property occupied by suspected Chinese criminals.
Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, deputy national police chief, on Tuesday said the investigation has not yet found any no criminal irregularities against senior police at the command level — a deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) and a deputy commander of the Patrol and Special Operations Division, or 191 Police — but a disciplinary investigation was under way.
But issuing verbal commands to officers at the operational level went against procedures and regulations of the Royal Thai Police Office, he said.
The latest investigation relates to alleged extortion and bribery following a raid on the home of the former consul-general of the Republic of Nauru in Sathon district of Bangkok on Dec 22.
A preliminary investigation focused on Seksit Sawanyathiput, director of the DSI bureau of development and logistics and a close aide of Mr Traiyarit. Mr Seksit was said to be friends with a deputy commander of the 191 Police, whom he got to know when they took a master’s degree course together.
Mr Seksit reportedly sought cooperation from the 191 deputy commander to search the Bangkok house. The latter notified the deputy MBP chief, who gave a verbal order for police to carry out the operation, said Pol Gen Surachate.
Arrest warrants have been issued for 16 people — five DSI officials, nine policemen, a military police officer and a Chinese-born interpreter — in connection with the events that led to the release of 11 Chinese suspects found hiding in the former consul-general’s house.
Pol Gen Surachate said police investigators had questioned Mr Seksit twice and he gave useful statements. The DSI official claimed Mr Traiyarit had been informed about the search.
Investigators now want to ask Mr Traiyarit about a special team that he oversaw, as he must be held responsible for the raid involving his officials. At this stage, investigators have not yet found any money trail, said Pol Gen Surachate.
Last Tuesday, Mr Traiyarit insisted the DSI had not ordered the accused officials to take part in a search. He also denied reports that his right-hand man had coordinated with 191 Police in organising the raid.
The following day, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin transferred Mr Traiyarit to the Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS), to serve as acting director. Pol Maj Gen Suriya Singhakamol moved from the CIFS to serve as acting DSI director.
Pol Gen Surachate said he expected three or four more government officials would be charged next week for alleged involvement in a related raid on a condominium in Huai Khwang, the residence of a Nauru diplomat.
“The accused officials are in the same group as those who raided the former consul-general’s house,” he said. “Chinese suspects and the Chinese interpreter now in custody will be questioned further. These suspects showed their intention to give their side of story to police about those involved in the raid.”
About 9 million baht reportedly missing from the raid has yet to be recovered. It was allegedly been distributed among the 16 police and others involved, but they refused to give statements, said the deputy national police chief.
Investigators have examined mobile phone records of everyone involved and found that statements given by some of the accused did not match with their call and text message records, said Pol Gen Surachate.
Former politician and massage parlour tycoon Chuvit Kamolvisit, who first blew the whistle on the extensive activities of Chinese gangsters in Thailand, alleged that the consul-general’s former house was sheltering illegal Chinese nationals and served as a base for forging passports and visas.
He alleged that the Chinese occupants used fake diplomatic licence plates on their van and falsified the signature of the former consul-general to rent the luxury house.
During the search on Dec 22, the officers arrested 11 Chinese nationals, one of them on Interpol’s Red Notice list, and seized 8 million baht. They had allegedly escaped a raid at the Jinling pub, an illegal business catering to Chinese tourists, on Charoen Rat Road in Bangkok on Oct 26.
All the suspects found in the house were reportedly released in exchange for 5.5 million of the seized funds. Mr Chuvit also alleged that the officers had demanded an additional 4 million baht, to be picked up from a petrol station by the Chinese interpreter.