Mayor resigns after arrest over extortion

Mayor resigns after arrest over extortion

Weerachat: Says he's sorry
Weerachat: Says he's sorry

Deputy Interior Minister Chada Thaised's son-in-law has resigned from his position as municipal mayor following his arrest for alleged extortion in Uthai Thani province on Tuesday.

Mr Chada said yesterday his son-in-law, Weerachart Rasamee, apologised on Tuesday night after being released on bail. He instructed his son-in-law to resign so a new mayor can be elected.

Mr Weerachart resigned at 11pm on Tuesday, Mr Chada said in parliament.

Mr Weerachart, 45, was the mayor of Talukdoo municipality in Thap Than district of Uthai Thani. He was arrested on Tuesday morning, along with four others, for allegedly extorting 600,000 baht from a tap water contractor. All the suspects denied the charges.

The case made headlines because the Interior Ministry had assigned Mr Chada to lead the suppression of influential people nationwide.

Mr Weerachart was arrested at his house, while his two subordinates were arrested at the municipal office. They were Thanapat Dulyathikan, 47, assistant mayor, and Kulathat Samakkhee, 23, assistant civil works chief of the municipal office.

Another two suspects, Manop Tittimanop, 51, and Yingyong Khachachan, 30, were caught red-handed with 600,000 baht in cash at a branch of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) in Muang district, police say. The men were allegedly there to receive the cash from the contractor.

Pol Col Prasong Chaloempan, deputy commander of the Anti-Corruption Division, said Mr Weerachart ordered the extortion, Mr Thanapat and Mr Kulathat negotiated with the victim, and Mr Manop and Mr Yingyong were assigned to receive the cash.

Pol Col Prasong said the gang demanded 1 million baht from the contractor who had won a contract to build two tap water systems for Talukdoo in Thap Than and tambon Hat Thanong of Muang district.

The victim asked for a decrease to 600,000 baht and scheduled the payment for Tuesday morning when a sting operation was organised.

Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat Pankaew, commander of the Anti-Corruption Division (ACD), said police have solid proof, including video clips, audio and phone records from the victim.

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