HEADING to northern Mae Hong Son province today (July 19) was Pol. Lt. Gen. Surachet Hakphan, or Big Joke, assistant to the National Police Chief, to investigate fraud charges against a police officer, who was his classmate at the police academy, in allegedly taking a 6 million baht bribe from a British detainee to help bail him out, Sanook.com said.
Pol. Lt. Gen. Surachet said on June 27 this year immigration police had arrested Mr. Ritesh Patel, a British citizen, who travelled to Thailand on a fake British passport under the name Mr. Bret Blake Webber, as an international warrant on drug charges had been issued for him with British authorities wanting to extradite him for prosecution.
After being denied bail through an application made by Ms. Thirawan (surname withheld), the suspect asked for help from Mr. Thanyawat (surname withheld), who is acquainted with Mr. Wittaya (surname withheld), who in turn claimed he knew Pol. Col. Rames. Kaewsungnoen well.
The latter is superintendent for investigation at Mae Hong Son provincial police unit and is also Pol. Lt. Gen. Surachet’s classmate at Royal Police Cadet Academy.
On June 29 Thanaywat and Wittiya tried to meet the detainee but were refused permission by the guard who stated it was against the regulations even though they cited Pol. Col. Rames’ name and also stated that he was a member of Pol. Lt. Gen. Surachet’s unit.
However later Thirawan and Thanyawat did transfer the 6 million baht bribe to Wittaya but after receiving the money Wittaya started avoiding them. The detainee then filed a complaint.
Pol. Lt. Gen. Surachet said investigation revealed that 300,000 baht was transferred to Wittaya’s account while over 5 million baht was transferred to various accounts of Pol. Col. Rames’ family members including his wife, mother and children.
Pol. Lt. Gen. Surachet further said that he had talked to his classmate who confessed to taking the bribe while also admitting that he had done this several times.
He added that even though the suspect was his friend he still must be prosecuted and that this is the fifth case where his name had been used to commit crimes.
Pol. Lt. Gen. Surachet talking to the press. The Thai headline says, “Bad friends won’t be spared.” Photo: Sanook.com