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Police launch manhunt for ex-cop on the run

Police launch manhunt for ex-cop on the run

BANGKOK: Police have launched a manhunt for a former police station chief who allegedly killed a drug suspect while attempting to extort from him B2 million while in police custody, national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk said yesterday (Aug 25).

By Bangkok Post

Thursday 26 August 2021, 08:30AM

A copy of the warrant for the arrest of Thitisan Utthanaphon, left, is posted along with those for other suspects on a notice board displayed during a press conference in Nakhon Sawan yesterday (Aug 25). Photo: Chalit Phumruang

A copy of the warrant for the arrest of Thitisan Utthanaphon, left, is posted along with those for other suspects on a notice board displayed during a press conference in Nakhon Sawan yesterday (Aug 25). Photo: Chalit Phumruang

Pol Col Thitisan Utthanaphon, formerly the superintendent of Muang police station in Nakhon Sawan, disappeared three days ago before a video clip of him committing torture and trying to extort money from the suspect was released on social media on Tuesday, said Pol Gen Suwat.

The clip made headlines and prompted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday to order the police to investigate the incident that reportedly led to the man’s death by suffocation.

The dead suspect was yesterday identified as 24-year-old Chiraphong Thanaphiphat.

The seven police allegedly involved in Chiraphong’s death have been dismissed from their positions and arrest warrants have been issued, said Pol Gen Suwat yesterday.

The suspects, five of whom have already been detained, now face charges for dereliction of duty, torture, and murder.

Four of the detained police have been identified as Pol Maj Rawirot Ditthong, who was the chief investigator of Muang district station.

Also identified were Pol Capt Songyot Khlainak, who was a deputy chief police investigator; Pol Sen Sgt Maj Wisut Bunkhiew; and Pol Sen Sgt Maj Suphakon Nimchuen.

The officers were all from the same station.

The fifth detained former officer is Pawikon Khammarew who is from Takhli district station.

The only two that remain at large are Thitisan and Thoranin Matwanna, who was a deputy chief police investigator at Muang station.

“The police are seeking cooperation from their counterparts in neighbouring countries in attempts to locate Thitisan in case he already has fled across the border,” said Pol Gen Suwat.

On Tuesday lawyer Sittha Biabangkerd posted the clip on his Facebook page in which a police officer putting a plastic bag over the head of a man (Chiraphong), who was wearing a yellow T-shirt.

Other police were present. The clip showed Chiraphong resisting.

The lawyer said he obtained the clip from a junior police officer who sought his help in forwarding the clip to the national police chief.

The junior officer asked the lawyer to follow up on the case before he and his fellow officers were killed, Mr Sittha said.

Immigration police at all border checkpoints have been alerted to the possibility of the suspect attempting to flee the country, said Pol Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang, chief of the Immigration Bureau.

Although all border checkpoints are closed due to the COVID-19 situation, cargo trucks are still allowed to cross the borders, Pol Lt Gen Sompong said.

“The immigration police now seek cooperation from other security authorities in stepping up patrols along borders and at sea for fear the suspect may attempt to sneak out through a forest trail or by sea,” he said.

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Meanwhile, state-run Sawanpracharak Hospital, which issued a death certificate for the dead drug suspect, have defended their finding that “methamphetamine poisoning” was the cause of death.

The hospital said it wasn’t a final conclusion as they are still waiting for blood test results to find out the exact levels of methamphetamine in his system.

The results are expected next week.

The hospital said that a forensic examination was conducted on Aug 7 after Chiraphong was referred from a private hospital to Sawanpracharak Hospital on Aug 5.

Chiraphong died on Aug 6, it said.

Sawanpracharak Hospital was informed by a private hospital that the man fell down and lost consciousness while he was running away from police who were chasing him during a drug crackdown.

NACC probe

After the Nakhon Sawan provincial court approved arrest warrants yesterday, police began searching locations where Thitisan might have been, including his luxury house in Kannayao district of Bangkok, said Pol Gen Suwat.

Found at Pol Col Thitisan’s B60mn house were 29 luxury cars worth more than B100mn in total, said a source.

Two Myanmar caretakers told police that Thitisan usually stayed at the house only on weekends, mostly alone but sometimes with his girlfriend.

Meanwhile, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is probing the unusual wealth of Thitisan.

The NACC has the authority to conduct this investigation along with the police investigation into the murder case, said Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, NACC spokesman, yesterday. Evidence about the suspect’s unusual wealth has been compiled and will today be forwarded to the NACC’s subcommittee on assets inspection for consideration, he said.

The 39-year-old is also accused of taking bribes, said Mr Niwatchai.

A police source said Thitisan wasn’t this rich from the beginning but he has built his own wealth out of some grey area businesses including trading edible bird’s nests while he was a deputy sub-division chief at Narcotics Suppression Division 4, overseeing drug suppression operations in the South.

At that time he emerged as a rising star in drug suppression who handled many important cases, which led him to know people in illicit businesses and the bird’s nest trade, said the source.

He later moved on to making money out of suppressing the smuggling of luxury cars and supercars in the South. He earned a lot of money from rewards offered for seizing such cars - 45% of the value of the car confiscated - and handing them over the Customs Department for resale through an auction, said the source.

He earned B900,000 for a car worth B2mn, for instance.

The source did not say to what extent this activity could be considered legitimate.

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Sir Burr | 26 August 2021 - 15:49:29

@Christy Sweet.
Seems the Thais hate you as much as you hate them.
Lived in my present house for over 20 years and my Thai neighbours couldn't be nicer.

maverick | 26 August 2021 - 15:22:21

I have spent 30 years working and living in the developing world in Asia , Africa and Latin America nothing surprises me for we choose to make Thailand our home we are not held here against our wishes - and trust me there is far worse out there let’s spare a thought for the poor folks left behind in Kabul  

maverick | 26 August 2021 - 15:18:04

Wow must be Phuket cynic day

Christy Sweet | 26 August 2021 - 14:35:04

One wonders why the officer assigned to Layan police box cannot speak English  when the  area has hundreds of western foreigners and only a fraction of Thais. 

Christy Sweet | 26 August 2021 - 14:29:17

Then there was the drunken man who banged on my door a few months back demanding, "We f*ck now" He left a clear foot print which police ignored and they never contacted a neighbor who knows  the man is related to  some rubber tree farmers.

Christy Sweet | 26 August 2021 - 14:25:44

Then there was the mentally disturbed neighbor I  caught stealing my mail last month - she had also attacked me on my own property over a year ago. Police told me to go to the hospital to get a record of the injuries, then did nothing. She's walking around  the neighborhood at this very moment. 

Christy Sweet | 26 August 2021 - 14:22:24

Then there was the fake vet who flubbed up a euthanasia badly on a horse that suffered quite badly. Took me over a year and a trip to Bangkok Livestock Dept to get them to force  Cherng-Telay police to charge him. He plead guilty. 

Christy Sweet | 26 August 2021 - 14:19:15

Just about as long as it took US cops to kill George Floyd.  Police are truly out of control across the globe. #DefundThePolice 

Nasa12 | 26 August 2021 - 12:11:43

In my living area in Phuket you have some high ranked police in Phuket some building a house’s to 20 mill up 4 very very expensive cars. And in the same area we have some lower trafficking police some buying houses from 7 to 12 mill. This traffic police on motorcycle hunting farangs all day loooong.

Nasa12 | 26 August 2021 - 12:02:47

Well well it’s took RTP 9 min and 46 seconds too kill this young man. PM this it’s on your guard, and your promise to the Thais for a looongtime ago you want to reform RTP.

Kurt | 26 August 2021 - 11:25:16

Seems Jo Ferrari run many years a good business, with use of RTP uniform camouflage, with permission of hand up holding superiors. At the end he is stupid, throwing it all away with his last 'act'. Talking about 'legitimate' ? We all know Thai (rubber-) laws don't apply on RTP officers. RTP is a sub culture on it's own. Ask General Prayut. He knows that since his reform pro...

Kurt | 26 August 2021 - 10:16:44

Expect the superiors of Jo Ferrari to be very happy/relieved when he has left for Dubai or so , using a well approved escape route. Perhaps with a private flight?

Fascinated | 26 August 2021 - 09:46:00

Unfortunately the jonior officer who reported the incident is likely to suffer the most wrath for  daring to embarass the RTP. He has more courage than the other 7 put together but will be punished for 'tarnishng the reputation' (what a joke that is) of the police.

JohnC | 26 August 2021 - 09:39:07

And of course his colleagues let him stip away never to prosecuted. The Red Bull boy story all over again.


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