Jurin sorry as assault probe widens

Jurin sorry as assault probe widens

Democrat Party leader Jurin Laksanawisit apologises for the sex scandal involving the party's former deputy leader Prinn Panitchpakdi at a press briefing at party headquarters on Tuesday. The briefing came after pressure grew for Mr Jurin to take steps to shore up the party's image tainted by the scandal. Pattarapong Chatpattarasill
Democrat Party leader Jurin Laksanawisit apologises for the sex scandal involving the party's former deputy leader Prinn Panitchpakdi at a press briefing at party headquarters on Tuesday. The briefing came after pressure grew for Mr Jurin to take steps to shore up the party's image tainted by the scandal. Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

The leader of the Democrat Party has apologised for the sex scandal involving a former deputy party leader and acknowledged his own responsibility by resigning from two government committees on gender equality and women's policies.

Jurin Laksanawisit, who is also the commerce minister and a deputy prime minister, was speaking during a press conference called at the party's headquarters on Tuesday.

"Resigning [as party leader] is irresponsible because I'd be leaving problems for others to solve.

"I played an important role in recruiting Mr Prinn ... As the issue arose while I am the party leader, I cannot avoid responsibility," the leader of the 76-year-old coalition party said. To show responsibility, Mr Jurin said, he had resigned from the two committees.

He said the Democrat Party opposed sexual harassment, violence against women and children and gender discrimination. He confirmed the party would not shield Mr Prinn or interfere with the justice system.

The party formed a committee to find out the facts in Mr Prinn's cases and to look into rehabilitation for the affected people, he noted.

The son of Supachai Panitchpakdi, a former deputy prime minister, director-general of the World Trade Organisation and secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, Mr Prinn resigned from the Democrat Party last week to fight allegations of sexual harassment and rape. He was earlier released on bail after answering charges in two sexual harassment cases and one rape case brought against him.

Meanwhile, Pol Maj Gen Trairong Piwpan, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, who is tied to the ongoing investigation against Mr Prinn, said nine more sexual misconduct complaints were filed with Lumpini police against the politician on Monday, bringing the total number of accusers to 14.

Pol Maj Gen Trairong said Lumpini police and the Metropolitan Police Division 5 will gather witness accounts to determine what further charges may be pressed against the suspect moving forward.

After questioning nine victims, Pol Col Nimit Nuphonthong, superintendent of Lumpini police, said investigators had been told that the suspect would start a conversation about business and then lure his victims to a condo, among other places, before allegedly molesting or raping them. Some victims claimed to have been drugged before allegedly being raped, Pol Col Nimit said.

If further charges are pressed against Mr Prinn, the court will be asked to issue a warrant for his arrest, Pol Col Nimit said. However, he said there was no telling how much longer the investigation would take.


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