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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Four police linked to online gambling gang surrender
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Four commissioned policemen yesterday turned themselves in to face charges related to claims they took bribes from an online gambling organisation.

A gambling network allegedly run by Abubakar bin Sulaiman is said to have links with ousted crime-buster Lt Gen Pongpat Chayaphan.

The four police were identified as Lt Col Wattana Phon-ngarn-dee, Maj Apisit Mekprayoon, Capt Nitipat Kangruambut and Capt Sakkarin Kaysorntien.

“They are now charged with taking bribes and corrupt negligence,” Metropolitan Police Division 2’s deputy commander Col Chayut Marayart said yesterday.

He oversees the investigation into alleged bribe taking by police who participated in a 2009 crackdown on the so-called Abubakar gang.

Gen Pongpat reportedly led police to arrest an Indian businessman five years ago on suspicion that the suspect was involved in an online gambling organisation with turnover of billions of baht.

Col Chayut said all the four suspects who turned themselves in yesterday denied any wrongdoing.

Following their surrender, police took them to their homes to conduct searches. Police can detain the four suspects for 48 hours in line with the law, but further detention requires permission from a court.

Relatives of the men are plan to post bail for them.

The four police officers are among 14 suspects for whom arrest warrants were issued last Wednesday over charges related to the bribe-taking scandal related to the Abubakar gang.

Nine of these suspects are police. They were told to report themselves by December 29 or face arrest.

An informed source said the Metropolitan Police Bureau chief had already contacted the supervisors of the other five wanted police suspects to arrange for their surrender.

In related news, Gen Pongpat was transferred out of the Central Chest Institute yesterday back to the Medical Correctional Institution, where he underwent a “balloon” heart surgery on Saturday. A huge police presence was at the institute while Gen Pongpat was there.

The transfer took place, after doctors agreed that gen Pongpat’s health conditions were good enough.

Gen Pongpat has been in detention since last month.

“He has records of high-blood pressure. But his chest pain was likely acute,” said Special Remand Prison chief Ayut Sintopphan.

— Phuket Gazette Editors