Lese majeste trio ‘confesses’
BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN) - Thai police likely to make more arrests of businesspeople and other suspected offenders linked to this case.
Three well-known figures arrested for lese majeste have confessed to violating Article 112 of the Penal Code, a senior police officer said Wednesday.
Celebrity fortune-teller Suriyan Sujaritpolwong, 53, who is better known as “Mor Yong”, his aide Jirawong Wattanathewasilp, 39, and Police Major Prakrom Warunprapa, 44, an inspector from the Technology Crime Suppression Division, were brought to the military court Wednesday under heavy security.
They arrived in three separate vehicles, handcuffed, and accompanied by a large group of heavily armed police commandos.
The three suspects had been detained at the 11th Military Circle for 12 days. They were brought back to the military establishment after the military court granted a request for their further detention on Wednesday.
A large number of media personnel were present at the military court Wednesday. Some television channels broadcast the event live.
Police Lt-General Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul, who heads the team investigating the case, told reporters Wednesday that the trio had confessed to their alleged crime. He said they had admitted to having done so for more than two months.
The three were all accused of insulting the monarchy, which violates the lese majeste law. Prakrom was also accused of possessing unregistered firearms and ammunitions.
They were arrested after the military court issued warrants for their arrest – on October 18 for Suriyan, October 20 for Prakrom, and October 21 for Jirawong.
“There were references to the top institution so we brought these three in order to jail them,” said Srivara, who is assistant national police chief. He added that there might be others involved in this case.
“Police are gathering evidence for military prosecutors to take this case to court. If the evidence links this case to other people, the authorities will take legal action against all of them,” he told reporters.
Srivara said Wednesday that more arrests would be made soon for people involved with this group of offenders. These would also include some businesspeople who had cited the monarchy for personal gains, he said.
He said the investigators would also attempt to determine as to whether these suspects were connected to eight police officers who had been transferred to inactive posts earlier for suspected involvement. The eight officers had been moved to the Central Investigation Bureau.
Srivara on Wednesday declined to make it clear how many suspects police were targeting in this lese majeste case.
He said, however, that police have strong evidence against the trio who were brought to the military court Wednesday. “The offence carries a penalty of more than five years in prison so we have to be careful. We need strong evidence before any arrest warrant is issued,” he said.
A previous high-profile case of lese majeste involved disgraced former Central Investigation Bureau commander Police Lt-General Pongpat Chayapan and his men, who were arrested last year.
Srivara on Wednesday also distributed a document comprising the names of people arrested for citing the monarchy for personal gains.
The document said that the National Council for Peace and Order had found that a group of people had wrongly cited their connection with the high institution in order to demand benefits from other people. Such an act was damaging to the monarchy and could threaten national security.
The NCPO then assigned a representative to file a complaint with the police to take legal action against those allegedly involved.