Top cop mulls suing Paween
Chakthip says remarks risk damaging country
National police chief Chakthip Chaijinda says he is considering suing a former human trafficking investigator for defamation, after the officer told Australian media on Thursday he had been intimidated by Thai police and feared for his life due to his probe into Rohingya smuggling.
Pol Maj Gen Paween Pongsirin arrived in Melbourne a few days ago and told the Australian Broadcasting Corp on Thursday that he feared being killed because influential figures in the government, military and police who were allegedly implicated in the illicit trade want him dead.
He said he was pressured not to pursue the trafficking network too aggressively. "Influential people are involved. There are some bad police and bad military who do these kind of things," Pol Maj Gen Paween said. "Unfortunately, those bad police and military are the ones that have power."
Pol Gen Chakthip said on Friday he did not know why Pol Maj Gen Paween fled Thailand but that he has a team of lawyers checking whether his comments were defamatory.
"I don't know the reason why he had to seek asylum and whether this might be politically motivated. But he should not talk about this because it could damage the country," said Pol Gen Chakthip.
Pol Maj Gen Paween resigned from the Royal Thai Police on Nov 5 after being transferred from his post as deputy chief of Provincial Police Region 8 to the Southern Border Provinces Police Operation Centre.
He claimed the transfer put him at risk of revenge by members of trafficking syndicates still at large. Pol Maj Gen Paween has raised concerns about his safety before, but authorities were unable to calm his fears.
He said his posting to the deep South, where intricate webs of trafficking networks were uncovered, was designed to kill him. Pol Maj Gen Paween was appointed to head the probe after more than 30 migrant graves were found in an abandoned traffickers' camp in Songkhla province on May 1.
Pol Gen Chakthip said yesterday that when Pol Maj Gen Paween resigned, he tried to dissuade him by allowing him to pick where he wanted to work. But Pol Maj Gen Paween insisted on quitting.
Pol Lt Gen Thesa Siriwatho, the chief of Provincial Police Region 8, formerly the immediate superior of Pol Maj Gen Paween, said Pol Maj Gen Paween's comments have hurt the morale of other police officers working in the far South.
Pol Lt Gen Thesa also said Pol Maj Gen Paween's transfer from Provincial Police Region 8 was justifiable and the officer seems to have shown insubordination and a lack of discipline. He also urged Pol Maj Gen Paween to lodge a complaint with the Royal Thai Police if he felt he had been mistreated, rather than talking to the media.
Pol Lt Gen Thesa dismissed Pol Maj Gen Paween's claims of intimidation by police and military officers as groundless, saying no other officers who took part in the probe had mentioned any intimidation.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee said yesterday it had not been confirmed that Pol Maj Gen Paween had formally applied for asylum in Australia.