12 officers charged in truck sticker bribery case

12 officers charged in truck sticker bribery case

Twelve highway police officers out of 40 implicated in the truck sticker bribe controversy have been charged with extortion and misconduct.

Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat Pankaew, the Counter Corruption Division (CCD) commander speaking in his capacity as acting Highway Police Division Chief, said on Friday that further charges would be announced after an anti-graft panel widened the probe.

He would not give details about the 12 charged from the group that originally included one inspector, 17 deputy inspectors and 22 non-commissioned officers, but said they will now work at the Highway Police Division operations centre pending further action.

Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat said he believed more officers and officials with higher ranks are involved including those from other agencies. A working panel of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will extend the investigation, he added.

The scandal, said to have been prevalent for more than 20 years, was first brought to light by Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn, a Move Forward party list MP-elect. The outspoken politician said overloaded trucks with special stickers were not being detained, nor were their drivers ever arrested.

After the initial reports, Pol Maj Gen Ekkaraj Limsangkat, commander of the Highway Police Division, was transferred to an inactive post at the Central Investigation Bureau on May 30.

A senior official of the Ministry of Transport admitted on Friday that there were loopholes in the system for regulating overloaded trucks.

The human factor -- specifically, the use of discretion in determining which trucks to detain and which ones to let go -- needed to be addressed, said Pisak Jitviriyavasin, the ministry's deputy permanent secretary.

He said the ministry would focus on implementing immediate IT solutions to graft. Longer-term, a body camera system should be adopted, he said after chairing a meeting of a ministry fact-finding panel on the bribery scandal.

He has instructed the Department of Highways and the Department of Rural Roads to consider the use of body cameras by officers and plans to raise the issue for discussion at the next meeting on June 20.

The Department of Highways operates 97 permanent checkpoints for weighing vehicles, and the Department of Rural Roads has five.

The ministry would take disciplinary action against officials found involved in taking bribes from operators of overloaded trucks, Mr Pisak added.

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