Police deny lese majeste led to shunt

Police deny lese majeste led to shunt

Ex-spokesman Prawut prepares for scrutiny

Deputy police chief Pol Lt Gen Prawut Thavornsiri (left) and all staff officers were dismissed as police spokesmen but new chief Chakthip Chaijinda (right) insists it is nothing to do with the lese majeste probe involving fortune teller Mor Yang and his alleged
Deputy police chief Pol Lt Gen Prawut Thavornsiri (left) and all staff officers were dismissed as police spokesmen but new chief Chakthip Chaijinda (right) insists it is nothing to do with the lese majeste probe involving fortune teller Mor Yang and his alleged "Bike for Dad" shakedown scandal. (Photo courtesy of Pol Lt Gen Prawut, via Twitter)

The national police chief is denying that Pol Gen Prawut Thavornsiri was removed from his post as police spokesman because of lese majeste.   

Speculation has been rife that arrest warrants will be issued for more lese majeste suspects, including senior police and military officers, after three were detained last week.

Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, the national police chief, appointed Pol Gen Detnarong Suthicharnbancha as the new spokesman for the Royal Thai Police on Monday.

Pol Gen Prawut has been made a Royal Thai Police adviser.

Under the same order, five other officers were appointed deputy police spokesmen: Pol Maj Gen Suwat Chaengyodsuk, Pol Maj Gen Piyapan Pingmuang, Pol Maj Gen Songpol Wathanachai, Pol Col Krisna Pattanacharoen and Pol Lt Col Pongpol Iamwicharn. 

On Tuesday, Pol Gen Chakthip said a reshuffle of the police spokesmen team normally happens when a new national police chief takes the helm.

He said he had no personal problems with Pol Gen Prawut, and the old team of police spokesmen under the command of Pol Gen Prawut had done nothing wrong.

"The previous police spokesmen worked hard for so long and deserve a rest from the job," Pol Gen Chakthip said.

"It's like playing a sport. When you're tired, you need to rest and substitutions are made," he added.

Prawut: ‘Not involved in any offences’

Pol Gen Chakthip dismissed rumours that the sudden change in the police spokesmen team was linked to the lese majeste arrests last week.

A source close to Pol Gen Prawut said the appointment of the new team took place as Pol Gen Prawut went abroad on leave on Sunday.

Pol Gen Prawut has been informed of the order appointing the new team while also insisting he was never involved in any lese majeste offences and that he is ready to face scrutiny when he returns on Sunday, the source said.

Central Investigation Bureau commissioner Thitiraj Nhongharnpitak said Pol Gen Chakthip will explain to the media today the details of the lese majeste investigation into Suriyan Sucharitpolwong, a well-known fortune-teller, also known as Mor Yong, his close aide Jirawong Watthanathewasilp and Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapa.

The three suspects were charged last week with violating Section 112 of the Criminal Code, for allegedly making false claims about the monarchy for personal gain. 

Pol Maj Prakrom was found hanging inside his cell at a detention facility attached to the 11th Army Circle on Friday night.

Police sources earlier said a police raid on Mr Suriyan's room in Phahonyothin Park Condo in Soi Phahon Yothin 14 found his computer, from which he had tried to erase some data including correspondence with private companies for the "Bike For Mom" cycling event in August.

Mr Suriyan served as an adviser to a subcommittee responsible for holding the event. The sources said an investigation into Mr Suriyan's money trail found he had funnelled money to his relatives to buy assets for what police believed was money laundering.

The seized documents revealed he had cited the monarchy to collect millions of baht from private companies, including asking for more than 100 million baht from a large firm to buy bicycles from China for the "Bike for Dad" event scheduled for December.

Responding to calls by human right activists to shut the temporary jail at the 11th Military Circle, Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya said Tuesday that Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon still believes the prison is necessary.

"To close the temporary prison, several agencies would have to be consulted," he said. The facility was established to confine Erawan bombing suspects.

Police have to seek the Justice Ministry's permission to use the facility, Gen Paiboon said.

Authorities carried out an autopsy overseen by prosecutors, police, administration officers and forensic doctors on Pol Maj Prakrom's body before issuing a death certificate citing asyphyxia caused by neck compression, according to the minister.

There was no need to send his body for a post-mortem at the Police General Hospital's Institute of Forensic Medicine, he said.

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