A police inquiry has found evidence for legal and disciplinary action against Narathiwat police, including their chief, for protecting suspects in drug and weapons cases.
Pol Maj Gen Waesamae Salae, the commander of police in the southernmost province, and subordinates were found to have taken bribes in exchange for helping drug and weapons suspects, deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn said on Wednesday.
The subordinates were Pol Col Narawee bin Wae-arong, chief of the Tak Bai police station, and Pol Capt Nima-aming Wateh, deputy inspector for interrogation at the same station.
Pol Gen Surachate’s inquiry team also plans to take action against Rungruang Thimabutr, the civilian former chief of Sungai Kolok district.
Requests for criminal and disciplinary action were filed with the police Anti-Corruption Division on Monday, he said.
The inquiry followed a complaint from lawyer Atchariya Ruangrattanapong, a prominent campaigner for crime victims.
One of those helped by corrupt police, according to Mr Atchariya, was Chayanont Nithor, a 25-year-old Tak Bai resident and murder suspect.
He alleged that a decision was taken not to prosecute Mr Chayanont in connection with the murder of Pol L/Cpl Thanakrit Ruekdee, 23, who was on patrol in Sungai Kolok on July 16 last year, although there was evidence to link him to the crime.
The lawyer said Mr Chayanont had paid 40,000 baht to have licences for seven guns issued by the Sungai Kolok district office despite his record for drug abuse. Three of the licences were issued in one day.
Narathiwat police also did not pursue Mr Chayanont in a case involving the seizure of 128 kilogrammes of compressed marijuana in Songkhla on Dec 6, 2021. The accused dealer caught with the drugs, Asi Bueheng, 33, told police that Mr Chayanont had hired him to transport the marijuana to Malaysia.
On June 8, 2022, police and narcotics suppression officials searched Mr Chayanont’s house in Tak Bai and found a pistol, a shotgun and an assault rifle.
Mr Chayanont and five others were arrested there but only one of them was later charged. A subsequent inquiry found the group’s phone communications and financial transactions with some local police officers.
Mr Atchariya also alleged that Pol Maj Gen Waesamae issued informants’ cards bearing his name and phone number. Criminal suspects who had such cards had no fear of carrying weapons in public places, he said.
Pol Maj Gen Waesamae was transferred to an inactive post in October pending the investigation.
He subsequently filed a defamation complaint against a person who accused him of helping criminals.
The accuser was named in the documents he submitted but he declined to reveal the name to reporters.