'Big Joke' avoids suspension for now
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'Big Joke' avoids suspension for now

Deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn
Deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn

Deputy national police chief, Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, has not been suspended yet as the Royal Thai Police needs to set up a committee to probe the allegations against him first, the acting national police chief said.

"Everything has procedures that need to be adhered to," Pol Gen Kitrat Panphet told the media before meeting Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin at the parliament building on Wednesday.

He said there are two issues to consider. The first is an investigation into the charges against Pol Gen Surachate which allegedly involve money laundering related to the online gambling site, BNK Master. The other is a disciplinary charge which will need a committee to review.

On Tuesday evening Pol Gen Surachate turned himself in to police to answer the charges after the Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant. He was later released on bail. He told the media that he was innocent.

Pol Gen Surachate 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 their involvement with illegal gambling networks.

Pol Gen Kitrat said that before suspending Pol Gen Surachate, he must follow certain processes. First, he must receive a case summary from Metropolitan Police investigators and Pol Gen Surachate's arrest file. He said he has not yet received them.

In addition, the Disciplinary Division of the Royal Thai Police must also examine the reports and summarise its opinions for Pol Gen Kitrat's consideration.

If the Disciplinary Division finds grounds for further proceedings, the acting national police chief will set up a panel to give the accused a chance to prove his innocence, he said.

"Pol Gen Surachate will not be suspended or fired during the investigation process of the committee," he said. That process will happen if the committee finds grounds to do so.

"For now, Pol Gen Surachate can still perform his duties as usual," he added.

He also said regulations stipulate the police panel must carry out its probe within 60 days. The time limit can be extended if requested.

Meanwhile, lawyer and activist Sittra Biabungkerd on Wednesday submitted information regarding financial transactions related to illegal businesses involving three police officers, including national police chief Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol, to Move Forward Party leader Chaithawat Tulathon.

The lawyer also submitted the information to the Police Complaint Review Board.

Acting national police chief Pol Gen Kitrat Panphet speaks to reporters at parliament on Wednesday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

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