Police guarantee Paeng Nanod's safety, if he surrenders

Police guarantee Paeng Nanod's safety, if he surrenders

No guarantee if he resists arrest

A TV screen capture of fugitive prison escapee Chaowalit Thongduang, alias Sia Paeng Nanode, from one of the videos he sent to police saying he escaped because he had been treated unfairly by police, prosecutors and the justice system.
A TV screen capture of fugitive prison escapee Chaowalit Thongduang, alias Sia Paeng Nanode, from one of the videos he sent to police saying he escaped because he had been treated unfairly by police, prosecutors and the justice system.

The national police chief has called on fugitive Chawalit Thongduang, alias Sia Paeng Nanode, to surrender and has guaranteed his safety, as the huge manhunt for the prison escapee continues in thick forest near the southern border.

However, he said, he could not guarantee his safety if he remained a hunted fugitive.

Chaowalit, 37 escaped from his Nakhon Si Thammarat hospital bed on Oct 22 after being taken there from the provincial prison for dental treatment, and has since run rings around his pursuers.

He was serving time at Nakhon Si Thammarat Prison. He was sentenced to 20 years and six months in jail last year by Phatthalung Court for attempted murders in connection with an armed attack on police during an attempted abduction on Sept 2, 2019 in Phatthalung province.

He was tracked heading south and a massive manhunt mounted for his capture.  Authorities believe Chaowalit is hiding in the heavily forested Banthad mountain range in Phatthalung province, discounting speculation he had crossed into Malaysia.

Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol, he police chief, said on Monday he had information that Chaowalit had come down from the mountain - the date and time and the people who helped him.

Chaowalit has posted videos addressing the police. From the background seen in the clips, including a barbed wire fence, the police chief said the escapee might be hiding somewhere along the border.

In the videos, Chaowalit made allegations against police officers and public prosecutors, saying he was treated unfairly.

Pol Gen Torsak said he had ordered the police inspector-general's office to investigate. If the allegations were found to have grounds, those officials would face both disciplinary and criminal action.

He said the escapee himself had not contacted police offering to surrender, as some reports suggested.  Only his relatives had done that.

If Chaowalit did surrender peacefully, he, as the police chief, would guarantee his safety and there would not be an extrajudicial killing. However, if there was fighting while police were trying to recapture him, police at the scene would act at their discretion, Pol Gen Torsak said.

Directing his remarks directly at Chaowalit, Pol Gen Torsak said if he chose to remain a fugitive, he would be running for the rest of his life. He should surrender and tell the authorities about the injustice he claimed to have suffered, he added.

Pol Lt Gen Ithipol Atchariyapradit, an assistant national police chief, said he believed Chaowalit was still inside the country. It was not possible that he had fled by boat to Indonesia, and if Chaowalit fled to Malaysia he would not be able to stay there since he is not a Muslim, he said.

"I believe he is still hiding on a mountain inside the country, with help from some people. No matter what, police will continue their efforts for his recapture," he said.

Pol Maj Suriya Singhakamol, director-general of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), said Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong had ordered a fact-finding investigation into the allegations Chaowalit made in the videos.

The fugtive claimed he was denied justice, saying the only person given a prison sentence even though there were many other suspects in the case.

If Chaowalit's allegations were found to have grounds, the DSI might be assigned to take up the case for re-investigation, he said.

Attorney-general's spokesman Prayuth Phetkhun said Chaowalit had mentioned two prosecutors in his videos as having treated him unjustly. Attorney-general Amnat Jetcharoenrat ordered Sirisak Pojanasit, director-general of the Region 9 Prosecution Office, to investigate.

Mr Sirisak initially reported back that "Lersak", one of the prosecutors mentioned by Chaowalit, was not involved as the crime occurred in Phatthalung province in 2019. At that time, Mr Lersak was working in Bangkok's Min Buri district. He also denied knowing either the other prosecutor or Chaowalit.

On Chaowalit's claim that of the suspects in the case, only he was indicted by prosecutors while six others were not, Mr Prayuth said the Office of the Attorney General had ordered an investigation to establish whether the indictment decision was correct or not, and whether there were grounds for the indictment to be reconsidered.

The investigation result was expected next week, he said.

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