B3m police reward 'is bribery'
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B3m police reward 'is bribery'

Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang shows off what he claims is three million baht, a
Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang shows off what he claims is three million baht, a "reward" for officers who made the first arrest in the Erawan shrine bombing case. (Post Today photo)

Civil society leaders are condemning national police chief Somyot Poompunmuang for rewarding police investigators with three million baht for arresting a suspect in the Erawan shrine bombing, saying it is tantamount to bribery as they are already being paid a salary for their work.

Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Association of Organisations Protecting the Thai Constitution, said a state official handing out a cash reward to other state officials -- who are required to do their jobs -- is considered an act of bribery by law.

"This is a form of bribery under the Organic Act on Counter-Corruption of 1999, and this specific policy was strictly revised in 2011," Mr Srisuwan said. Police chief Somyot had earlier announced a one million baht reward - then raised it to three million on Aug 21- for anyone who could provide information leading to the arrest of the bomber.

Last Saturday, police arrested the first suspect, a foreigner of unconfirmed identity whose role in the attack was unclear. On Monday the police chief announced he would give the three-million-baht bounty (one million of which was his own, and two million from "friends") to his own men -- even though the "yellow-shirted bomber" was still at large.

He insisted the officers deserved the reward because of their "arduous work" tracking down suspects in the bombing, which killed 20 people and injured 130 on Aug 17.

Sources said one million baht is for the Central Investigation Bureau team and one million baht is for the Metropolitan Police Bureau. It is still unknown who will receive the remaining one million.

Mongkolkit Suksintharanon, secretary-general of the National Anti-Corruption Network, has also slammed the reward and called for a government review of whether it is legal.

"Police officers get their salary from taxpayers. So it is their duty to find the culprits when a crime is committed, especially in a case that threatens our national security," Mr Mongkolkit said. "It would be better if these funds were donated to the victims of the blast."

Ajchariya Ruangratanapong, president of the Help Crime Victims Club, said cash incentives derail the morality of law enforcement. It was similar to the police policy of giving part of the money from traffic fines to traffic officers.

"Such a cash reward is a conflict of interest since it is the duty of law enforcers to enforce the law," he said. "This only leads to our police serving for money and not their duty to the people."

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