AGODA

Thursday, May 4, 2017

#Thailand - Prostitution bust ‘requires Article 44’

Police escort five suspects linked to the Mae Hong Son |prostitution scandal from Bangkok’s Thung Song Hong Police Station to Ratchadapisek Criminal Court to apply for the first 12-day detention period yesterday morning.
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District chiefs fear offical meddling in probe

THE FEDERATION of Assistant District Chiefs of Thailand filed a petition at Government House yesterday for Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha to use his absolute power under Article 44 of the interim constitution to deal with civil servants involved in the Mae Hong Son underage prostitution scandal.
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The group, led by federation chairman Boonyarit Nipawanit, claimed that the use of normal laws would cause delays and might risk interference by local influential figures. He urged authorities to punish supervisors who were guilty of dereliction of duty or negligence allowing such crimes to take place, as well as officials directly involved in the racket or patronising underage prostitutes. They said that if the case was tackled seriously it could lead to the end of the unofficial tradition of sex services being offered to senior officials. Lawyer Kerdpol Kaewkerd, who represented victims of the prostitution ring and accompanied Boonyarit yesterday, said the government should expedite legal action in the case as there had been attempts to interfere with the work of police investigators by trying to tamper with evidence and witnesses who were not being provided protection. 
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 Kerdpol said that if the investigation was prolonged the victims might lose interest in fighting the case as they would feel that they would not receive justice.
Meanwhile, Phrae deputy governor Wirun Panthewee said he had been at a party to welcome Suebsak Iamwichan last year as he took his position as Mae Hong Son governor, adding the festivities were normal without any suspicious activity. 
Suebsak is being questioned by an Interior Ministry disciplinary panel over his alleged involvement in the case although he maintains that he was innocent. 
Wirun urged the public to not spread rumours about Mae Hong Son people or treat accused officials including Suebsak unfairly unless they are proven guilty. 
Meanwhile, five human-trafficking suspects allegedly involved in the prostitution ring were brought to Bangkok’s Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court yesterday to apply for their first 12-day detention period pending police investigation. 
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 Police opposed their release on bail on the grounds that the case carried a heavy punishment and there was a risk of them tampering with evidence and witnesses.
Anti-Human Trafficking Division (AHTD) chief Pol Maj Gen Kornchai Klayklueng told a yesterday press conference that he believed all involved in human trafficking crime in the ring were already identified – as per the teenage girl’s mother’s testimony that the racket had eight teams under suspect Pol Senior Sgt Major Yutthachai Thongchat. 
Kornchai said local police had 36 complaints and arrested three police officers wanted for the charge of gang rape of a minor, while AHTD had one case with eight suspects, all in custody. He affirmed police would check all points including the identity and involvement of a man called Uncle Pan whose Line chat leakage led to the complaint. 
He said the lie detection device use on victims or suspects were to show sincerity and required them to sign consents first. 
To a witness’s claim a man resembled governor took a girl under 18 to have sex on the night of welcoming party last year, he said it was a heresy, not a direct testimony of the girl in question hence the girl should file the complaint to have police probed it.
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Scrutiny of Mae Hong Son suspects 
 Group 1 
The three suspects in custody for whom a court issued arrest warrants on charges including conspiracy to commit human trafficking to benefit from prostitution. They include Pol Senior Sgt-Major Yutthachai Thongchat of Mae Hong Son’s Nam Piang Din Police Station, who was dismissed from the civil service.
Group 2
The five suspects in custody on charges including conspiracy to commit human trafficking to benefit from prostitution. They are one 30-year-old man and four women aged from 22 to 40.
Group 3
Three police officer suspects attached to Kong Koi police station in Mae Hong Son’s Sop Moei district facing charges of gang rape of a minor linked to the prostitution ring. They have also been dismissed from the civil service due to the alleged breach of discipline.
Group 4 
The five police suspects and one public school teacher accused of buying sex services from the prostitution ring. Previous police applications for arrest warrants were turned down twice on the grounds that they were civil servants with known addresses and were not a flight risk. The court suggested that summonses be issued for them instead.
Group 5
Police are trying to locate six men, including two military officers, a public health official and a district highway official, who are accused of buying sexual services from the prostitution ring.
Persons of interest
Mae Hong Song governor Suebsak Iamwichan is being questioned by an Interior Ministry panel over his alleged involvement. 
The mother of one of the victims this week has also filed a complaint with the Crime Suppression Division against Mae Hong Song police chief Pol Maj-General Preecha imonchaijit, Muang Mae Hong Son precinct superintendent Somkiat Sawngsuk and other officers who served on a disciplinary panel reviewing Yutthachai’s behaviour. 
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Source - TheNation
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