Actress bribe claim borne out by officers' confessions: source
published : 31 Jan 2023 at 04:06
newspaper section: News
writer: Wassayos Ngamkham
A number of officers among the seven Huai Khwang policemen accused by Taiwanese actress Charlene An of extorting 27,000 baht from her in the early morning of Jan 4 have now admitted she was telling the truth, according to a police source.
The source was quoting information discussed by executives of the Royal Thai Police (RTP) during Monday's meeting of a committee which screens senior police officials for promotion.
The seven officers who stopped the Taiwanese actress and her companions in a Grab taxi for a security check at a checkpoint in front of the Chinese embassy on Ratchadaphisek Road did in fact demand 27,000 baht not to arrest the actress who was found in possession of a vaping device, said the source.
The member of the group who actually handed the bribe money to the officers was a Singaporean companion of the actress. Vaping remains illegal in Thailand.
"Some of the officers admitted to extortion after being interrogated separately," said the source.
They had kept the incident secret and even initially denied the allegation as they thought their victim was a foreigner who wouldn't dare report the details to authorities.
Attendees at the meeting also discussed whether they should be dismissed for serious disciplinary misconduct, said the source, adding their superiors are also facing a probe to find out if they too were involved.
A Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) panel will examine previous cases of alleged extortion, said the source.
Following reports about the actress' social media complaint, a number of similar complaints have been made in which people say police demanded payment in exchange for officers turning a blind eye, said the source.
Earlier in the day, Pol Maj Gen Archayon Kraithong, spokesman for the RTP, said national police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas had begun moves to transfer the Huai Khwang police station chief during the probe.
MPB commissioner Pol Lt Gen Thiti Saengsawang later signed the order to transfer Pol Col Yingyos Suwanno, the station chief, to the MPB's operations centre.
As for the seven police officers, a MPB committee had found them guilty of dereliction of duty for failing to take legal action against the Taiwanese actress or accurately recording the incident, said Pol Lt Gen Thiti.
Court action may follow over the more serious allegation of extortion.
Separate comments made by Pol Maj Gen Nitinan Phetborom, an MPB deputy chief, after meeting senior officers at Huai Khwang station, corroborated the source's claim that, so far, the officers are only assumed to have been in dereliction of duty, with a further probe to follow.
On Monday, former politician and massage parlour tycoon Chuvit Kamolvisit issued more details of what is said to have happened that night.
Writing on his Facebook page, he said the Thai girlfriend of An's Singaporean companion has a video clip filming the payment.
According to Mr Chuvit, the girlfriend said she was the person who handed the money to the police.
Mr Chuvit said surveillance camera footage of the security checkpoint that night had been deleted and the memory cards installed in the officers' helmet cameras wiped.
He also accused the police of talking the Grab car driver into lying that the Taiwanese actress was very drunk and the duration of the incident had been far shorter than alleged. The driver has told the media repeatedly that she was drunk.