Paween insists death threats real

Paween insists death threats real

Policeman who fled thailand dismisses claims he was lying

The senior officer who implicated a network of politicians, army and police officials in the trafficking of Rohingya migrants has repeated claims that he received several death threats while heading his investigation.

Pol Maj Gen Paween Pongsirin fled to Australia in fear for his life earlier this month and is now seeking asylum there.

He yesterday contacted former colleagues handling the case to reject a police panel's findings that no death threats were made against officers involved in investigating the trafficking. "I insist that I received several death threats from those in authority," he said.

"I think the Royal Thai Police should arrest human trafficking suspects still at large before they take any legal action against me for my handling of trafficking cases.

"Traffickers and those who receive benefits from traffickers are actually the ones who are destroying the nation."

Deputy police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, who was appointed by national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda to lead an inquiry into Pol Maj Gen Paween's death threat claims, earlier concluded "no such threats had been made".

Pol Gen Srivara said the panel checked with other police investigating trafficking cases, but found none had reported being coerced or threatened by any influential groups.

Pol Maj Gen Paween travelled to Melbourne earlier this month, where he told local media outlets he was fleeing a death threat made by influential people in the military and police linked to the trafficking cases he had been working on.

He resigned from the police force 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 attacks by members of trafficking syndicates that operate in the South and was designed to silence him. He said he had raised concerns about his safety before, but the authorities failed to respond. 

At least 153 suspects have been arrested for trafficking as a result of Pol Maj Gen Paween's investigation, with 91 indicted in cases he had handled.

An army lieutenant general, police officers, local politicians and business operators are among the arrested suspects.

Pol Maj Gen Paween was appointed to head the investigation into human trafficking following the discovery in early May of dozens of graves and bodies, believed to be Rohingya people, at abandoned jungle camps in Padang Besar, Sadao district of Songkhla and Phangnga.

Pol Gen Srivara yesterday said he had tried to contact Pol Maj Gen Paween to establish the truth using every available channel. He said the fact-finding inquiry was thorough and followed proper procedure, interviewing several officers involved in handling human trafficking cases.

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