Speaking to the press outside Government House yesterday afternoon (Mar 28), PM Gen Prayut said, “One Phuket police inspector has been moved out as there has been a complaint, and it must be investigated.
“For now we do not know the facts yet. The officer must be investigated and must be moved out from the area first.
“I know there is a fight between police and reporters in the area, but when there is a clear complaint with names, addresses, offices and details of the complaint, we must be fair to everyone,” he added.
The move follows a signed petition addressed to PM Prayut calling for Patong Police Chief Col Chaiwat Uikam and Capt Thanturong Wutthiwong to be removed from Patong immediately.
The letter accuses Col Chaiwat and Capt Thanturong, who is awaiting official promotion to the rank of Police Major, of abusing their positions of power.
“They act like mafia who use law to threaten people and look down on people like we are slaves, who are not afraid of anyone, who use the power for their own benefit,” the letter alleged.
“These police refer to Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, that they know him well and are not afraid of anyone in Phuket, not even the Phuket Governor or higher-ranking Phuket police.
“We have reported this to the Damrongdharma Centre (Ombudsman’s Office), the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and the 41st Military Circle, but have had no reaction,” the letter added.
In addition to PM Prayut, the letter was also addressed to the Commander of Royal Thai Police, the Commander of the Royal Thai Army Region 4 (covering Southern Thailand), and the Commander of Region 8 Police (for upper Southern Thailand).
Phuket Provincial Police Chief Maj Gen Teeraphol Thipjaroen confirmed to The Phuket News Thai-language sister newspaper Khao Phuket this morning (Mar 29) that Capt Thanturong had been removed from active duty.
However, Gen Teeraphol did not mention Col Chaiwat at all.
“For now the officer (Capt Thanturong) still holds his official position at Patong Police Station. He has not yet been ordered to vacate his position, but he is no longer on active duty in the area that people complained,” Gen Teeraphol said. (See story here.)
“He was ordered to report to Phuket Provincial Police Station this morning. Now I do not know where he is,” he added.
Gen Teeraphol noted that Capt Thanturong will face due process.
“We cannot say that the officer is guilty or not because he has yet to be investigated or proof of the allegations provided. I do not mean to protect him, but we cannot make any judgements until the investigation is finished,” he said.
Gen Teeraphol cast doubt on the veracity of the allegations against the Patong officer.
“The complaint seems to be aimed at shaming the officer. People who have clear evidence or persons who can confirm that police force people to pay bribes can file complaints – that is their right. They can even file complaints to the Royal Thai Police Crime Suppression Division (CSD).
“Do not be afraid of any influential people. If police are doing wrong, they will face legal action. No one can protect them.”