Tourists extorted by police will be safe from prosecution even though they paid a bribe, including holidaying Taiwanese actress Charlene An who alleged she was extorted for possession of an e-cigarette at a Bangkok checkpoint last month, a senior Bangkok police officer said on Wednesday.
Pol Maj Gen Atthaporn Wongsiripreeda, commander of Metropolitan Police Division 1, said interrogators would question witnesses in the case involving Ms An in Singapore and Taiwan to ensure their safety.
The tourists involved in the case would not be prosecuted for bribing police, and would be treated as witnesses because they were seen as the damaged party and were coerced by policemen, he said.
Pol Maj Gen Atthaporn said 14 policemen set up vehicle checkpoints on Ratchadaphisek Road in front of the Chinese embassy in the early morning of Jan 4, and the group including Taiwanese actress Charlene An was stopped for a search.
She later alleged she was forced to pay a bribe of 27,000 baht before they let her go.
Pol Maj Gen Attaporn said seven policemen were at the checkpoint where Ms An's taxi was stopped. These officers had initially been charged with dereliction of duty for failing to prosecute the actress, who allegedly had a vapouriser in her bag.
If the questioning of the witnesses provides substantial evidence, police could additionally press extortion charges against the officers.
"Camera footage showed 6 or 7 officers approaching the damaged people and staying a long while," Pol Maj Gen Atthaporn said.
Interrogators had pictures of the 14 police officers for the witnesses to identify, he said.
Meanwhile, national police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas has transferred the Huai Khwang station chief, Pol Col Yingyos Suwanno, to the post of chief of Nong Chok station.