Deputy national police chief Surachate "Big Joke" Hakparn has slammed the search of his home in Bangkok on Monday morning as dishonest and attributed it to political manoeuvring within the Office of the Royal Thai Police.
Speaking to reporters about 12.40pm at the Police Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit road, Pol Gen Surachate said the search of his house, in Soi Vibhavadi 60, was dishonest because in seeking the warrant cyber crime police gave the court only the number of the house to be searched. They did not tell the court who owned the place.
In fact, many of the police who showed up for the search knew that it was his house, he said.
Pol Gen Surachate said he initially refused to allow them inside, but relented after he talked with the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau (CCIB) commissioner.
Nothing illegal was found in he house.
Pol Gen Surachate admitted that eight other police officers the CCIB had obtained arrest warrants for were his subordinates.
He said their financial transactions must be examined to show whether whether they were involved in the operations of online gambling websites as alleged, or not. If arrested they must be able to explain whether the allegation was true or false, he said.
The embattled deputy police chief said what happened to him was linked to politics within the Office of the Royal Thai Police. He had confidence in his men and they deserved justice. If in an investigation found they actually committed the crime, as alleged, they must be subject to criminal action and he would not protect them, he said.
Pol Gen Surachate said he was still in the dark about who ordered the search, which was intended to discredit him and ruin his reputation.
He admitted having handled many criminal cases in which many police officers were implicated and were served with arrest or search warrants. It was normal that he would be the subject of hard feelings.
Pol Lt Gen Trairong Phiewphan, chief of the Office of Legal Affairs and Litigation of the Royal Thai Police, said the search of 30 houses in six provinces across the country stemmed from the arrests in July of three suspects in connection with 12 gambling websites.
This led to CCIB police seeking court warrants to arrest 23 other suspects, including eight police officers.
From evidence acquired through the investigation, some of the eight police officers appeared to be administrators of gambling websites, while the others were coordinators. They were found to have been in the illegal business for over two months, he said.
Pol Lt Gen Trairong said the eight police officers included a police major general and a police colonel.
He said cyber crime police who showed up to search the house on Soi Vibhavadi 60 did not know it belonged to Pol Gen Surachate, because the official domicle registration showed the house belonged to a civilian. Therefore, the search was not an act of persecution, he said.
According to Pol Gen Trairong, of the 23 suspects under arrest warrants 15 had been arrested and at least one of them was a police officer. There was at this stage no evidence implicating Pol Gen Surachate, he said.
Pol Lt Gen Trairong said in a later interview that of the 23 suspects, 17 had been arrested and eight of them were police officers. One of them was arrested during the search of four or five houses on Soi Vibhavadi 60.
The searh for the six civilians who had not been arrested would continue.
Police would seek court permission to further detain those arrested, according to legal procedure. Whether they would be released on bail rested with police investigators and the court.
Pol Lt Gen Trairong said he had not received a report on the statements given by the suspects. He asserted the arrests were made with proper supporting evidence acquired in a two-month-long investigation.