Police assure no special treatment of officers implicated in drug suspect’s death
Thailand’s police inspector-general, Pol Gen Visanu Prasartthongosoth, has given his assurance that there will be no special protection of the police officers involved in the alleged torture of a drug suspect in their custody, while the deputy national police chief, Pol Gen Suchart Thiraswasdi, claimed today that police know the whereabouts of former Pol Col Thitisan Utthanaphol, the key suspect in the alleged unlawful killing.
Some Thai media have reported that Thitisan, also known as Joe Ferrari, has already been apprehended in Myawaddy, Myanmar, but Thai police have not yet confirmed it.
Pol Gen Suchart has been assigned by the national police chief to oversee the controversial case, which has caused public outrage over the alleged police brutality seen in the globally disseminated video clip.
Regarding the alleged torture of the suspect, whose head was covered with a plastic bag and handcuffed, he said it could not be determined at this stage whether the abuse seen in the video was intended to extort money from the victim or to extract information about the illicit drug trade.
All seven police officers, in Muang district of Nakhon Sawan province, including Thitisan, formerly the superintendent of the Muang district police, are implicated in the death of the suspect, 24-year old Jirapong Thanapat, which occurred during an interrogation at the police station on August 5th, and have been dismissed from the police service pending the outcome of the investigation.
Five of them are being held in police custody for questioning, including former Pol Snr Sgt/Maj Visut Boonkhieum, aka “Dab Bo”, who turned himself in last night (Wednesday) at an area on the border between Nakhon Sawan and Kamphaeng Phet provinces. He was later escorted to the Muang district police station of Nakhon Sawan.
Meanwhile, the Jit Arsa Royal Thai Volunteers has stripped Thitisan of his status as a member of the volunteer organization, effective yesterday.