Fifteen police officers who fled when a gunman shot their colleague dead at Kamnan Nok's dinner party in Nakhon Pathom will be charged this week with dereliction of duty, Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) commissioner Jirabhop Bhuridej said on Tuesday.
He was briefing reporters on progress in the investigation into the fatal shooting of Pol Maj Siwakorn Saibua, a 32-year-old highway police inspector, at influential local businessman Praween “Kamnan Nok” Chankhlai's house in Muang district on the night of Sept 6.
Pol Lt Col Wasin Panpee was also wounded in the attack by gunman Thananchai Mamnak, who was a close aide of Mr Praween. The gunman was later shot dead by police in Kanchanaburi.
Both victims worked for Highway Police sub-division 2.
Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said investigators had met several times to consider taking action against police for dereliction of duty over the shooting. Investigators had examined security camera footage, witness statements and other evidence and agreed there were 29 police officers in attendance at the dinner party.
They divided the officers into four groups. The first comprised the dead and injured officers, the second consisted of six officers whose actions amounted to dereliction of duty and concealment of evidence. They are the six officers were earlier arrested and dismissed from the force.
The third group was six other officers who helped the dead and injured officers.
The fourth group comprised the 15 other officers, who would also be charged with dereliction of duty, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said.
Investigators would formally press charges against the 15 officers this week, the CIB chief said. Charges of giving false statements were still being investigated, he added.
“The meetings agreed on charges of violating Section 157 of the Criminal Code. If you are a police officer and see a crime, you are duty-bound to arrest the wrongdoers unless there is a good reason not to, such as helping the injured.
"The facts are that only six officers helped the dead and injured officers. Therefore these 15 officers must also be prosecuted,’’ the CIB chief said.
According to earlier reports, Pol Maj Siwakorn rejected Mr Praween's request during the party for the promotion of his nephew, a highway policeman. Then a gunman walked in and fired multiple shots at Pol Maj Siwakorn, also hitting Pol Lt Col Wasin.
The murder triggered widespread outrage because the other policemen at the party did not even try to arrest the killer or Mr Praween, and instead let them flee the scene.
The gunman was later shot dead. Mr Praween turned himself in. Authorities have since been examining his business affairs.
Asked about Pol Col Vachira Yaothaisong, commander of Highway Police Sub-division 2, who was present at the dinner and later shot himself dead at his house in Pathum Thani province. Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said evidence and witness accounts confirmed that Pol Col Vachira had been among those who helped the two shot officers.
Pol Col Vachira was the immediate supervisor of Pol Maj Siwakorn, who was slain, and blamed himself for inviting the man to the dinner party.
Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said there were 15 security cameras installed at Mr Praween’s house. Two of them were not working, 12 of them had recorded files. One of the cameras recorded the incident at the party and another had stopped recording at 10.16am, before the dinner party started, he said.
The CIB chief said existing evidence was sufficient to prosecute Mr Praween.
Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop was also insistent that the CIB had no involvement in the raid on deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn’s house in Bangkok on Monday.
He was responding to reports police commandos were involved in the raid.
He said the police commando unit was under the CIB, but mostly reported directly to the Royal Thai Police Office. On Monday, he believed the order came directly from the RTPO. It was not from the CIB.