BANGKOK: Three Pattaya policemen are to face legal action related to the escape of two suspects, a German and an American, arrested for allegedly buying sex from underage girls, a deputy national police chief on Wednesday (Dec 6).
Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn (pic), deputy commissioner-general of the Royal Thai Police, said a former chief of Pattaya police station, a deputy station chief and the police officer in charge of the case would face disciplinary action for failing to observe regulations following the arrests of the foreign suspects.
Surachate was referring to a case in September last year involving a German tourist suspected of paying a 1 million baht bribe to escape charges of buying sex from a minor in Pattaya, the notorious red-light seaside town in Chonburi province.
The case came to light early this week when a documentary by German news outlet Deutsche Welle (DW) raised allegations of bribe-taking by Thai police.
The documentary said the tourist was arrested on Sept 11, 2022, after being caught in a sting operation by local authorities. The tourist was then released on bail, but Deutsche Welle alleged that he paid a bribe of 1 million baht to the arresting officers to avoid being charged.
Surachate said Wednesday that a preliminary investigation found that there was also another suspect, an American, involved in the case. Both have fled the kingdom, he added.
Surachate said the case has to be separated into two parts – the bribe allegation, which is being further investigated, and the disciplinary probe which has been completed.
Surachate said the disciplinary probe found that the unnamed policeman in charge of the case failed to follow two key regulations when a foreign suspect is arrested.
First, the policeman in charge of the case has to inform the Foreign Division of the Royal Thai Police so that the embassies of the suspects are advised accordingly.
Second, the officer must inform the Immigration Bureau of the arrests so that the visas of the suspects are revoked and the suspects are taken into custody by immigration police once bail has been granted.
Surachate said because the officer in charge of the case failed to observe these two regulations, the two suspects were able to escape the charges.
He said the Pattaya police chief from September last year and a deputy station chief, who supervises the investigators, would also be held responsible and face disciplinary action. Surachate didn’t name the two officers.
Surachate said the German suspect obtained permission from the court to leave the kingdom for reasons of business and did not return, while the US citizen fled across the border.
On the bribery allegation, Surachate said the German suspect’s lawyer told investigators that the suspect did pay him 1 million baht but it was not for a bribe.
The lawyer explained that the money was for court handling expenses and to cover the collateral placed with the court for his bail.
The lawyer testified he did not know whether the German suspect paid a bribe to the police officer in charge of the case or not.
Surachate said he had sought help from the German Embassy in Bangkok to arrange for Thai police to interrogate the German suspect. The interrogation will be carried out via a teleconference from the Royal Thai Police head office at 2pm on Friday, he added.
Noting that the investigator in charge of the case failed to oppose the suspects’ release on bail, Surachate said further investigations would be conducted to ascertain whether any police officer received bribes from the suspects.
Surachate said he has instructed the Pattaya police station to urgently seek red arrest warrants from Interpol to be sent to Germany and the US, although he was not optimistic that Germany would agree to send a citizen back to Thailand to face charges.
It was however hoped that the red warrant would prompt the German authorities to take legal action against him in Germany. - The Nation/ANN