PHUKET: The Public-sector Anti Corruption Commission (PACC) Region 8 is awaiting final approval from Bangkok to start an investigation into a Phang Nga police officer accused of trafficking Rohingya women
over eight months ago.
The charges against the officer, Sen Sgt Maj Weerayuth Feuangfu, stem from the case of a Rohingya woman who reported that she was repeatedly raped after being smuggled out of a refugee shelter in Phang Nga on May 27 (story here
Sgt Weerayuth has already been found guilty of helping illegal immigrants enter the country, violating Thai Immigration Act BE2322, a crime for which he received a suspended sentence.
Despite previous reports that he had been discharged from the Royal Thai Police (story here
), the Gazette
learned this week that he had only been suspended, and remains suspended as the PACC investigates whether he is also guilty of violating Anti-Human Trafficking Act BE 2551. The PACC is pursuing the case because Thai law requires it to head any investigation of an officer accused of human trafficking.
The investigation has been a long time coming. Phang Nga police first sent the results of their investigation to PACC headquarters in Bangkok in August last year. In December, the Bangkok office passed the report to the PACC Region 8 office in Surat Thani, which had the authority to accept or decline the case. By the end of December they had accepted it and returned the documents to Bangkok for final approval from the PACC main office.
“After the case was transferred up from the Kuraburi Police to the Phang Nga Provincial Police over to the PACC in Bangkok, it took some time for them to get back to us,” said an officer in the PACC Region 8 office, who declined to be named. “We have done our preliminary investigation and accepted the case. Now we are waiting for final approval from Bangkok.”
A former employee of Sgt Weerayuth’s, Koreemura Ramahatu, is also facing charges of human trafficking, in addition to charges of raping the woman from the shelter. He is due to be sentenced on February 26.
Sgt Weerayuth's involvement in the case began when he reported discovering the alleged rape victim and her daughters by the side of the road (story here
). That event led to the arrest of Mr Koreemura and shortly thereafter, Sgt Weerayuth himself.
If found guilty, Sgt Weerayuth faces twice the punishment for the crime in accordance with section 13 of the Anti-Human Trafficking Act BE 2551, which stipulates the heavier penalty for any government official.