Srisuwan granted bail, denies extortion charge

Srisuwan granted bail, denies extortion charge

High-profile petitioner claims ‘influential individual’ may be trying to frame him

Activist and petitioner Srisuwan Janya is taken to the Central Investigation Bureau after his  arrest on Friday. (Photo supplied/Wassayos Ngamkham)
Activist and petitioner Srisuwan Janya is taken to the Central Investigation Bureau after his arrest on Friday. (Photo supplied/Wassayos Ngamkham)

Prolific petitioner Srisuwan Janya and Yoswaris Chuklom, who were arrested in a sting on Friday on charges of attempting to extort a senior civil servant, have been released on bail after undergoing almost nine hours of police questioning.

The arrests followed a complaint lodged with the police Anti-Corruption Division (ACD) by Natthakit Khongthip, director-general of the Rice Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

Also arrested was Phimnattha Chiraphutthiphak, a former MP candidate for the Ruam Thai Sang Chart (United Thai Nation) Party, part of the governing coalition. Mr Yoswaris, also known as Jeng Dokjik, leads the Ruam Chai Rak Chat (United Love for the Nation) movement and served on a civil service working group appointed by Deputy Prime Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, the UTN leader.

According to the complaint, Mr Srisuwan and his two co-accused attempted to coerce Mr Natthakit into paying a bribe of 3 million baht or face falsified corruption charges.

Police began questioning Mr Srisuwan and Mr Yoswaris at 3am on Saturday before agreeing to their release on a bond of 400,000 baht each after nearly nine hours of discussion.

During the interrogation, Mr Srisuwan denied all allegations against him while elaborating on the evidence gathered against him, including why he attempted to discard a bag containing 500,000 baht, and why he had the deeds to five plots of land and content on servers seized from his home.

The political activist claimed he threw away the bag of money, which his wife had found delivered to their front gate, after she handed it to him, fearing it would lead to suspicions of illicit activity.

Speaking to reporters after being released, Mr Srisuwan admitted to being rattled by the incident but affirmed he remains resolute. His actions on the civil and political stage, he said, have made retaliation inevitable.

“I believe that the case against me is the result of an influential individual attempting to counter one of many lawsuits,” said Mr Srisuwan. “I have sufficient evidence to clear my name.”

He added that he would submit to the legal process and would not end his crusades against corruption.

Police at Government House escort Yoswaris “Jeng Dokjik” Chuklom, accused along with Srisuwan Janya of trying to shake down a civil servant, for questioning on Friday. (Photo supplied)

Mr Yoswaris, a former red-shirt activist who switched sides to support the UTN in February last year, also told reporters that he and Ms Phimnattha were not involved with any extortion as alleged.

He said he had asked Mr Pirapan for advice, and that the latter advised him to proceed with the legal process.

He said there would be discussions with Mr Srisuwan and the legal team to arrange for a press conference to clarify the issue.

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