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Fugitive ‘Jo Ferrari’ turns himself in

BANGKOK: Fugitive Thitisan Utthanaphon, aka Jo Ferrari, has surrendered himself in Myanmar, according to police sources.

policecrimecorruptionmurderhomicide
By Bangkok Post

Thursday 26 August 2021, 09:04PM


Thitisan Utthanaphon (handcuffed) at the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok on Thursday night as national police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk (right) questions him. Photo: Royal Thai Police

Thitisan Utthanaphon (handcuffed) at the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok on Thursday night as national police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk (right) questions him. Photo: Royal Thai Police

He was reportedly brought across the border to Mae Sot in Tak province from adjacent Myawaddy on Thursday evening (Aug 26), reports the Bangkok Post.

National police chief Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk was scheduled to hold a briefing at 9pm on the same day.

Thai media earlier reported he succumbed to mounting pressure from the massive police hunt and alerted authorities to his whereabouts.

Khaosod reported that the arresting team went to his hideout and then took him to a safehouse.

Pol Gen Suchart Teerasawat, head of the investigation team, would fly from Bangkok to interrogate him, reports said, but did not say where.

Thitisan, 39, was wanted for the alleged fatal torture of a 24-year-old drug suspect at Muang Nakhon Sawan Police Station in Nakhon Sawan province on Aug 6, where Thitisan was stationed as superintendent.

Earlier, senior police said detectives had not concluded whether the death resulted from an attempt to extort money or acquire information.

Thitisan appeared at the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok on Thursday night and was interrogated by national police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk.

Pol Maj Gen Jirapop Puridet, deputy commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau, said detectives were about to arrest Thitisan in Chon Buri province but the suspect told police that he wanted to surrender at the CSD headquarters.

Probe targets abuse of authority, unusual wealth

Widely known by the nickname ‘Jo Ferrari’, Thitisan handled cases involving 368 smuggled cars during 2011-17.

Customs Department Director-General Patchara Anuntasilpa said the department examined its records and found that Thitisan had been the official in charge of confiscating 368 illegally imported vehicles, including luxury cars and supercars, during the period.

Of the total, 363 cars were auctioned, raking in about B1 billion, and the remaining five have not been sold.

Thai Residential

According to customs regulations at the time, 30% of the proceeds from all smuggled products were incentives for police teams or those bringing cases to the attention of authorities and 25% were rewards to other officials, including police.

He said Thitisan was among the beneficiaries of the rules but declined to disclose information about the recipients. The data would have to be first forwarded to authorities concerned, he added.

Mr Patchara pointed out the regulations were repealed in 2017 and the incentive and reward rates have since been changed to 20% each and capped at B5 million total per case.  

The customs chief also admitted he had heard rumours that his department’s auctions of smuggled cars had attracted little interest because they were believed to have been dominated by a group of bidders with an advantage. He declined to confirm or deny them.

According to the rumours, the electronic control units of the vehicles had been removed before they were sent to the Customs Department and only people with access to the units could use them. This means winners outside this group had to pay extra for them.

The department’s explanations followed media reports that police had found 13 luxury cars worth more than B100mn in total at Thitisan’s B60mn house.

His wealth also prompted the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to step in. As a police colonel, he received a salary of around B40,000 a month before he was dismissed from service on Tuesday.

Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, NACC spokesman, said his office was investigating Thitisan for abuse of authority and unusual wealth. Anti-graft officials are gathering facts for the investigations.

However, he noted that the abuse of authority probe over torture of the drug suspect is being sought by the anti-graft agency’s Region 6 and the NACC has yet to determine if the case falls under its jurisdiction.

A source in the NACC said allegations of bribe-taking and use of nominees in holding assets worth over B200mn will also be forwarded to the NACC’s subcommittee on assets inspection for consideration.

One of his estranged actress girlfriends told Thai media in 2017 that he had offered to give her B230mn in cash held by a nominee.   

Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution, on Thursday submitted a petition to the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) to investigate Thitisan and six others, who all now stand accused of torture and killing of a drug suspect earlier this month while trying to extort B2mn from the suspect.

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JohnC | 28 August 2021 - 09:21:02

I wonder if there is such a thing in this country as an honest cop or military officer? Let's face it, the only reason they join the forces is to use and abuse the power it gives them. 

Kurt | 28 August 2021 - 04:46:01

Jo Ferrari was not as fugitive in Myanmar, was just there for business, to check his bank accounts, probably shielding them off for check up by NACC and PACC. As the photos/video, with comments, of his killing went all over the world, no country will let him in.

Fascinated | 26 August 2021 - 23:22:16

No doubt there will be mutual backslapping at the highest levels but this takes nothing away from the corruption that exists in this country.

 

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