No vaping for smokers, no bail for 'extortion' police
Six officers detained for alleged shakedown of tourists, as force cracks down on e-cigarettes
published : 2 Feb 2023 at 17:50
updated: 3 Feb 2023 at 09:52
writer: Post Reporters
Six policemen accused of extorting a group of tourists caught with vaping devices have been denied bail while the Bangkok police chief has ordered a crackdown on illegal e-cigarettes that are widely available in the capital.
The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases refused bail on Thursday because extortion by officials carried heavy penalties and the court wanted to prevent the accused from interfering with evidence and witnesses, said Pol Maj Gen Atthaporn Wongsiripreeda, commander of Metropolitan Police Division 1.
The six officers from the Huai Khwang station face charges of taking bribes and could face life imprisonment, a fine of up to 400,000 baht or even the death penalty under Section 149 of the Criminal Code.
Investigators on Thursday sought court approval for the initial 12-day detention of the six officers as they gather more evidence in the case that began with a damning Instagram post by a Taiwanese actress.
Pol Maj Gen Atthaporn said there was enough evidence for the extortion charges although the six policemen deny any guilt.
Under the law, suspects can be held for a maximum of seven 12-day periods, or 84 days, before charges must be formally pressed.
The six accused were manning a checkpoint on Ratchadaphisek Road in front of the Chinese embassy early in the morning of Jan 4 when they stopped a taxi carrying Taiwanese actress Charlene An and her friends. A search turned up three illegal vaping devices but the officers let the group go after receiving 27,000 baht, Ms An said.
One member of the group, a Singaporean man, confirmed Ms An’s story at a press conference on Wednesday. He admitted he had three vapourisers and said he did not think they were illegal in Thailand because they were generally available at local markets.
Bangkok police chief Pol Lt Gen Thiti Saengsawang has since ordered all stations in the capital to suppress all sources of vapourisers. Decisive legal action will be taken against anyone in the illicit business of selling the banned devices, said Pol Maj Gen Theeradet Thammasuthee, investigative chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau.