‘Big Joke’ turns himself in

‘Big Joke’ turns himself in

Embattled deputy national police chief answers money laundering charge after arrest warrant issued

Deputy national police chief Surachate Hakparn speaks to reporters on March 20 following his sudden transfer to the Prime Minister’s Office. On Tuesday he reported to police to answer charges of laundering money. (Photo: Nutthawat Wichieanbut)
Deputy national police chief Surachate Hakparn speaks to reporters on March 20 following his sudden transfer to the Prime Minister’s Office. On Tuesday he reported to police to answer charges of laundering money. (Photo: Nutthawat Wichieanbut)

Deputy national police chief Surachate Hakparn turned himself in to police to answer charges of money laundering, just hours after investigators obtained a warrant for his arrest on Tuesday.

Pol Gen Surachate arrived in a Toyota Alphard van with Songkhla licence plates at the Tao Poon police station in Bangkok at about 5.30pm. His associates later parked the vehicle behind the station.

He subsequently went inside the station to meet investigators. He was later released on bail and declined to speak to reporters as he left the station at 8pm, saying only that he is innocent.

Pol Maj Gen Thinnakorn Rangmart, deputy commander of the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB), subsequently confirmed that Pol Gen Surachate was being questioned.

His appearance came after a day of drama in which police obtained an arrest warrant for the embattled deputy national chief after he had declined to answer three summonses.

Pol Gen Surachate, known as Big Joke, is currently serving in an inactive post on the orders of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who also had national police chief Torsak Sukvimol sidelined.

Both senior officers have been engaged in a long-running feud, with public accusations flying back and forth about involvement with illegal gambling networks.

MPB investigators on Tuesday morning filed an application for an arrest warrant at the Criminal Court, which approved it at 4pm.

The court said it had been presented with sufficient evidence to support the request for a warrant.

Pol Gen Surachate is accused in the warrant of colluding in money laundering and being a state official colluding in money laundering in violation of Sections 5, 9 and 10 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

On March 12, the court had approved warrants for the arrest of three police officers and a civilian for suspected involvement in money laundering in connection with the BNK Master gambling website.

They were identified as Pol Col Kittichai Sangkhathaworn, Pol Sgt Natthawut Wadwaew, Pol Sgt Natthanan Chuchak, and Napansakorn Haekerd. On the same day, the court also approved a summons for Pol Gen Surachate.

Three summonses

Investigators later issued three separate summonses for the deputy national police chief to report for questioning but were unable to physically deliver them to him. They went to the court on Tuesday to seek an arrest warrant.

Pol Gen Surachate told the press earlier that he was planning a family trip to the United Kingdom and that he would be returning to Thailand on April 1.

There were also reports that he had submitted a letter to the chief justice of the Criminal Court asking if there was a police request for a warrant.

The letter also said that Pol Lt Col Krit Pariyaket had sent a letter seeking justice to the Department of Special Investigation. He asked that the DSI accept as a special case the investigation against him currently being handled by Tao Poon police.

Evidence from the police investigation into Pol Lt Col Krit was submitted to the DSI. He is accused of money laundering in connection with a gambling network with over 300 million baht in circulation.

The investigation qualified as a special case under the law and the DSI had the authority to handle it, the letter said.

Police gather in front of the interrogation room at the Tao Poon police station, where deputy national police chief Surachate Hakparn was being questioned on Tuesday. (Image from Workpoint TV video)


Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (39)