Police rift probe 'will find truth'
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Police rift probe 'will find truth'

Panel chief promises results in 60 days

"I insist the probe will not end up as a mere token gesture without any concrete action taken," says Winai Thongsong, panel chair. (Photo: TV screen capture)

A probe into a conflict in the Royal Thai Police (RTP) will not end up as a mere token gesture to the public, and the truth must be uncovered within 60 days, according to former deputy police chief Pol Gen Winai Thongsong, who sits on a committee looking into the matter.

Pol Gen Winai said the conflict has received considerable public attention, so it is important to provide regular updates on the probe.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin ordered the transfer of national police chief Torsak Sukvimol and his deputy Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn to the Prime Minister's Office in the wake of the conflict.

The transfer order follows weeks of tensions, which saw Pol Gen Surachate, also known as "Big Joke", accused of money laundering related to the BNK Master online gambling website.

Police investigators failed to summon him to acknowledge the charge on Sunday.

On Monday, Pol Gen Torsak said Pol Gen Surachate was summonsed to appear at Tao Poon police station today and that he would face an arrest warrant and be suspended from duty should he fail to answer a second summons.

Tensions intensified on Tuesday as a team of lawyers representing Pol Gen Surachate accused 30 officers of taking kickbacks from the BNK Master network -- the same gambling network allegedly linked to Pol Gen Surachate.

Pol Gen Winai said that the prime minister was concerned that the recriminations between the conflicting parties would tarnish the RTP's reputation, so the PM decided to set up a committee comprising impartial members to look into the matter.

The committee has 60 days to work, and during this period, deputy national police chief Pol Gen Kitrat Panphet will serve as acting national police chief.

It will look into the accusations ranging from accepting a bribe to making false accusations against Pol Gen Surachate to thwart his chances of being considered for the police chief post.

But if the committee cannot finish the probe within the 60-day time frame, an extension will be sought, Pol Gen Winai said. After the probe is completed, it will be forwarded to the prime minister, he said.

"I insist the probe will not end up as a mere token gesture without any concrete action taken," Pol Gen Winai said.

Mr Srettha said on Thursday that the transfer of Pol Gen Torsak and Pol Gen Surachate was intended to pave the way for justice and public service.

The prime minister's remarks came after he chaired a meeting of the Police Commission at the Office of the Royal Thai Police on Thursday.

After the meeting, the prime minister told reporters that he was against any form of interference while stressing that the police force should be able to work with dignity in serving the public interest.

"If we were busy with the issue, people would be in trouble, and everyone would not focus on their work," Mr Srettha said.

Pol Gen Torsak and Pol Gen Surachate remain innocent pending an investigation by a probe committee, and their transfer is intended to facilitate due process and prevent any potential interference, he said.

Mr Srettha said the police should seriously address the issues of narcotics, loan sharks, influential people, smuggled goods and illegal firearms.

All parties should also stop giving interviews about Pol Gen Torsak and Pol Gen Surachate's situation, he said.

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