Thai court questions police over arrest of former national park chief
The Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases has demanded that the Central Investigation Bureau answer four questions pertaining to the incident last December when Rutchada Suriyakul Na Ayutya, former chief of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, was arrested by anti-corruption police at his office.
Accompanied by his lawyer, Rutchada appeared before the court this morning (Thursday) to deny charges that he demanded bribes from his subordinates in exchange for their transfers, in a case in which he charges Pol Maj-Gen Jaroonkiat Pankeaw, commander of the corruption prevention and suppression police, and Chaiwat Limlikhitaksorn, director of 9th Regional Protected Area Office and five other officials, with malfeasance in office, depriving him of his freedom, falsifying evidence, intrusion and criminal association.
During the hearing today, Rutchada claimed that his arrest at his office last December was an act of collusion between the anti-corruption police and Chaiwat, as Chaiwat was under investigation for alleged misuse of 14-million baht for a reforestation project back in 2019, which is due to expire on March 29th.
After Rutchada’s testimony, the court issued a letter addressed to the CIB demanding answers to four questions:
- What was or were the motive or motives for the arrest of Rutchada?
- Did the police who made the arrest of Rutchada on December 27th have search and arrest warrants?
- Was the release of the audio and video clip of the arrest on the social media concerned with the case or did it constitute an official secret?
- Was the seizure of 98,000 baht in cash during the raid of Rutchada’s office officially recorded?
The court expects answers from the CIB within 30 days of the date of the letter.
The next hearing is scheduled for March 30th.