More arrest warrants sought in child prostitution ring in Mae Hong Son
ANTI-HUMAN trafficking police will seek arrest warrants for at least two more persons in connection with the alleged prostitution of minors in Mae Hong Son.
Kornchai Klayklueng, commander of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division, declined to reveal the names of the suspects yesterday, saying his force would not spare criminals no matter how influential they were.
The mother of one of the victims has claimed that several government officials, including a police deputy superintendent and Mae Hong Song Governor Suebsak Iamwichan, were customers of the ring.
“Her latest interviews with media include new information, particularly the parts regarding alleged sex buyers. I ordered her interviews transcribed,” Kornchai said.
Three alleged procurers have already been charged with human trafficking. They are Pol Senior Sgt-Major Yutthachai Thongchat, who worked at the Nam Piang Din Police Station in Mae Hong Son until the scandal broke, Piyawan Sukma and Piyathas Parpthiensuwan.
Pol Colonel Montri Baothog, a superintendent at the anti-trafficking unit, said there was clear evidence against these three suspects.
He downplayed concerns that one mother had deliberately exposed the ring to hurt three police with whom she had a conflict.
“We have not yet looked into those rumours. But we have handled the case based on evidence,” he said.
Deputy national police Commissioner-General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said he had already ordered a disciplinary inquiry into the three implicated police.
“There is enough evidence to launch a probe as of now, but not yet to seek arrest warrants,” he said.
Pol Maj-General Panudej Boonruang, acting deputy Provincial Police Region 5 chief, said an investigation was underway to determine whether this case involved more victims and patrons. The mother, who used to work as a police informant, firmly pointed her finger at Suebsak, saying her daughter was forced into providing sex to this much older man.
The three alleged victims, now aged 17-19, were dragged into the flesh trade in late 2013 or early 2014.
The Interior Ministry has launched an investigation into Suebsak who has denied any wrongdoing. “I don’t drink or smoke. I don’t visit night entertainment venues either,” Suebsak said. A source said Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda had phoned the Mae Hong Son governor and rebuked him over the alleged human trade controversy in the northern border province.
“I have asked the Mae Hong Son governor about this. I told him that as the governor he has to know what’s going on in his province.
“He can’t say he doesn’t know. It is just a small province and the governor has to know everything,” Anupong was quoted as saying.
He was speaking at a weekly meeting of senior Interior Ministry officials, according to the source.
The mother who is seeking justice for the girls lured into prostitution said there were 11 sex-worker procurement rings in Mae Hong Son.
Atchariya Ruangrattanapong, president of the Help Crime Victim Club, dismissed reports that his club had abandoned the mother after accepting Bt15,000 from her.
“It’s not true. We have helped follow up her case all along. Besides, the Bt15,000 that she gave to the club was for travel expenses that the club’s team had incurred for their trip to pursue the case in Mae Hong Son,” he said.
During the trip to Mae Hong Son, the team talked to several local officials and members of local non-governmental organisations while gathering evidence strongly suggesting that Yutthachai was the head of a procurement ring, he said.
SOURCE - THE NATION