Police will investigate a claim by a German national that he paid a one-million-baht bribe to authorities in exchange for his release from a paedophilia charge, Pol Lt Gen Somprasong Yentuam, commissioner of Provincial Police Region 2, said on Sunday.
The investigation comes after a recent news documentary, Sex Tourists in Thailand, posted on the Deutsche Welle (DW) Documentary YouTube Channel. Access to the documentary is now blocked in Thailand.
One part of the video discussed a case of paedophilia involving a German national, Jens Kirch, 55, back in September 2022.
According to a report by Khaosod newspaper, the foreigner was arrested after a raid against a nightclub in Pattaya called Cobra Beer Bar on Sept 11, 2022.
The bar, owned by a 60-year-old British man and his 42-year-old Thai wife, is now closed. Both owners were arrested for child trafficking. Mr Kirch was arrested at his hotel room in Pattaya on Sept 24, 2022.
The German suspect said he paid about 700,000 baht for bail and his legal fees and another one million baht in cash to officials before flying home to Frankfurt seven days after being charged.
In the documentary, he admitted to having sex with a minor whom he took to his hotel room from the bar.
He said he had to flee the country because he was afraid he would be treated unfairly by police. As one example, he said all charges were brought against him in the Thai language.
Pol Lt Gen Somprasong said on Sunday police will find out who took the bribe. The probe would take about within seven days.
The police said the German suspect was able to leave the country because there was no condition imposed with his bail.
According to a letter from Pattaya Court on Nov 7 last year, the court allowed him to leave at his request for a business trip.
One reason is that he lived in Thailand and had a Thai wife. He also had a business in Thailand. In the letter, the court ordered him to report on Nov 14 last year or he would lose his 500,000-baht bail money. But on Nov 14, the suspect jumped the bail, said the police.
He said police submitted his case to the Pattaya state prosecutor on Dec 13 last year to proceed with legal action.
Meanwhile, Thanyawat Kamolwongwat, a list MP from the Move Forward Party (MFP), said the documentary presented factual information on sexual workers, in contrast with the Thai media which claims there are no prostitutes in Pattaya.
As sex workers are illegal, this creates a loophole for authorities to ask for bribes, he said.
Legalising sex work is one solution, said Mr Thanyawat, adding the workers would also benefit.