Police: No soldiers involved in lese majeste case

Police: No soldiers involved in lese majeste case

Police escort Sukkho Tamseri from the Crime Suppression Division to the Criminal Court on Oct 30. Mr Sukkho, one of the three remaining suspects of the lese majeste case, was charged with having firearms in possession. (File photo by Patipat Janthong)
Police escort Sukkho Tamseri from the Crime Suppression Division to the Criminal Court on Oct 30. Mr Sukkho, one of the three remaining suspects of the lese majeste case, was charged with having firearms in possession. (File photo by Patipat Janthong)

No military officers were involved in the latest lese majeste case, according to a police investigation to date, which is 90% complete.

Pol Lt Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, acting deputy police chief in charge of the investigation, said although Suriyan Sucharitpolwong, the key suspect in custody, had implicated some army officers, his testimony was not accepted.

Mr Suriyan, also known as fortune-teller Mor Yong, was one of the three people arrested for lese majeste in mid-October. He had allegedly extorted money from businessmen for the Bike for Mom and Bike for Dad events, citing the monarchy. 

Some Thai media, citing Pol Gen Srivara and military sources, reported early this week as many as 50 military officers might have been involved in the case.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his deputy, Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, denied the reports, saying they had no knowledge of their involvement in the case. Pol Gen Srivara also said he had been misquoted.

But it was reported on Friday Col Yutthapong Klantakasuwan, head of the Thai-Myanmar local border committee, sent an urgent letter to Myanmar authorities, seeking the deportation of Col Kachachart Boondee of the 3rd Army Region, who had illegally crossed the Mae Hong Son border to Myanmar on Nov 1.

Col Kachachart was promoted to deputy commander of the 11th Circle Army by former army chief Gen Udomdej Sitabutr shortly before Gen Udomdej retired on Sept 30.

However, when Gen Theerachai Nakvanich took over as army chief, he transferred Col Kachachart back to the 3rd Army Region as chief of staff on Oct 5.

Pol Gen Srivara said on Friday if the colonel is deported, police might invite him for questioning as Mr Suriyan had been photographed in the company of several officers on various occasions.

"If the investigation leads to anyone, we'll definitely take legal action even if he is a military officer. But to date, there are only three suspects in this case," Pol Gen Srivara said.

"As for the persons implicated by the suspects, we have yet to charge them," he said.

The police general added the investigation is almost complete, pending some forensic tests.

As for Sukkho Tamseri, Pol Gen Srivara said police charged him with having firearms in possession. Mr Sukkho was a close aide to Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapa, another suspect whom police said had tried to kill himself in his cell and died at hospital on Oct 24.


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