3rd senior Thai cop charged with royal defamation

2014-11-25 12:22

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bangkok - Thai police said on Tuesday they have charged a third high-ranking officer with lese majeste and all three with corruption, confiscating $61m in assets in what has become a rare internal probe of the country's top brass.

Authorities announced the royal defamation charge against marine police chief Boonsueb Praithuen, making him the third charged alongside Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayapun and his deputy Kowit Vongrongrot in the widening probe.

Under Thailand's lese majeste legislation, one of the world's strictest, anyone convicted of insulting the king, queen, heir or regent faces up to 15 years in prison on each count.

The three senior officers, who have been dismissed from their posts, are also facing a slew of bribery and corruption charges - including the running of illegal gambling and oil rackets - in what police described as "Pongpat's network".

False claims

Four more officers and five civilians have also been charged in the probe, though they are not currently charged under the lese majeste law, national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung said.

"The suspects had been making false claims to gain benefits through police promotions, illegal gambling and illegal oil trading," Somyot said at a press conference in Bangkok in reference to the lese majeste charges.

He did not elaborate on the nature of the "false claims" made in relation to the charge.

Even repeating details of the charges could mean breaking the law under section 112 of Thailand's criminal code.

"This case is very important and very sensitive so police may not make detailed disclosures about the ongoing investigations," Somyot said.

Confiscated goods

Police said they have confiscated an estimated two billion baht ($61m) worth of assets from 15 different locations.

Confiscated goods were projected onto a screen and showed a treasure trove of luxury items including ivory tusks, antique furniture, dozens of Buddhist and Hindu statues, paintings, gold ingots, jewellery, two motorbikes and hard cash, both in baht and foreign currencies.

Somyot said he was confident further assets were hidden and that Pongpat had confessed to the charges against him.

Rights groups say there has been a rise in both charges and convictions under Thailand's royal slur law since the army seized power on 22 May.

Under martial law - declared two days before the coup by then-army chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who is now premier - suspects are tried under military courts, where there is no right to appeal. Earlier cases were handled in civilian courts.

The royal family is a highly sensitive topic in the politically turbulent kingdom where 86-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest reigning monarch who is currently in a Bangkok hospital, is revered by many as a demi-god.

Read more on:    thailand

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.