Sidelined DSI chief gives conflicting details
Statements by Traiyarit at odds with account given by subordinates accused of demanding bribes
published : 27 Jan 2023 at 19:05
writer: Wassayos Ngamkham
Police say the recently transferred chief of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has given them conflicting details about alleged bribery involving his five subordinates during a raid on a property occupied by suspected Chinese criminals.
During questioning on Thursday Traiyarit Temahiwong insisted his order for a DSI special team to carry out their task was lawful but he had not ordered them to rob.
Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, deputy national police chief, said the former DSI chief told police investigators that he had no details about the house the team searched. His subordinates had not reported back to him on the operation, he added.
Mr Traiyarit answered questions raised by the investigators over a raid on the home of the former consul-general of the Republic of Nauru in Sathon district of Bangkok on Dec 22. It was carried out by DSI officials and officers from the Patrol and Special Operations Division, better known as 191 Police.
“His statement contradicted what the special DSI team told police. The team said they reported their operation to the then DSI chief after completing their task,” Pol Gen Surachate said on Friday.
“Consequently, I and the investigation team are duty-bound to find facts to see whether Mr Traiyarit knew exactly the outcome of the operation or not.”
Mr Traiyarit arrived at the Royal Thai Police Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road around 7pm on Thursday to give his statement.
He was transferred from the DSI to the Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS) following the alleged extortion and bribery by the DSI officials and police involved in the raid.
Asked about the alleged extortion of 9.5 million baht during the raid, Mr Traiyarit told the investigators that he had no knowledge about the money, said Pol Gen Surachate.
The investigators have had to extend the investigation as the money must have been distributed among those involved in the raid, said the deputy national police chief.
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.
Mr Traiyarit also denied any knowledge about a raid on a luxury condominium in the Huai Khwang area on the same day involving three DSI officials, said Pol Gen Surachate, adding that warrants would be issued for their arrest.
Earlier, Seksit Sawanyathiput, director of the DSI Bureau of Development and Logistics and a close aide of Mr Traiyarit, claimed the latter had been informed about the search.
Mr Seksit was called in for questioning as he reportedly sought cooperation from a deputy commander of the 191 Police to search the Sathon house. The latter notified the deputy Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) chief, who gave a verbal order for police to carry out the operation, according to 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.
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.