Transfer for prison head after portrait fire
The governor of Klongprem Central Prison has been transferred to an inactive post over the torching of a large portrait of His Majesty the King by anti-government protesters outside the prison last Sunday.
Justice permanent secretary Wisit Wisitsora-at signed the order on Thursday, the justice minister's secretary, Thanakrit Jit-areerat, said. Wichai Chotepatiwechakul has been reassigned to the position of inspector-general of the Corrections Department, he said.
The position of prison governor has been assigned to Tawatchai Chaiwat, now deputy director-general of the Corrections Department. Sub Lt Tanakrit said Mr Wichai's sudden transfer was over the fire outside the prison, on Ngam Wong Wan Road, about 3.20am last Sunday.
The fire was started by anti-government demonstrators angry that four of their leaders were being detained in the prison on charges of lese majeste, having been refused bail. They damaged a large portrait of the King erected outside the prison complex. The incident occurred ahead of the anti-government protest later on Sunday outside the 1st Infantry Regiment barracks, where the prime minister resides, on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road. Early on Wednesday morning police arrested singer and protester Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan, 31, aka "Ammy The Bottom Blues", on charges related to the fire. He is charged with arson and lese majeste.
Also on Thursday, the Criminal Court rejected an appeal for the release of Chai-amorn. The court decided he posed a flight risk, having tried to escape police before he was caught on Wednesday. Chai-amorn was arrested in Ayutthaya. There was no reason to release him, said the court, which ordered him detained at Thon Buri Remand Prison. His mother posted bail of 500,000 baht, but it was denied.
Chai-amorn admitted committing the crime in a Facebook post attributed to him. On The Bottom Blues' Facebook fanpage, Chai-amorn posted prior to his arrest that the burning of the portrait was done by him alone.
Meanwhile, the secretary to the justice minister on Thursday visited Klongprem Central Prison to inspect safety surrounding the facility after the arson attack.
Sub Lt Thanakrit said the prison has installed more CCTV cameras to cover the whole premises and improved the landscape to make it easier to implement security measures.
Prison guards have been reinforced and will work with police to tighten security at the prison, the official said.