Police have warned that anyone providing shelter to fugitive Sahachai Jiansermsin, an influential businessman accused of funding insurgency in the far South, will face prosecution.
According to an informed source, Sahachai was released from custody by a policeman identified as Sub-Lieutenant Arun Srimak and the officer was subsequently jailed for six months.
The source said that the Southern Border Province Police Bureau had urged Pattani provincial police to provide an explanation and to launch a disciplinary probe into Arun's conduct while dispatching a team to hunt down Sahachai.
Meanwhile, acting Pattani Governor Somphoch Suwannarat said the initial investigation into the incident found that Sahachai had fled to another province.
A deputy provincial police chief in Pattani, Colonel Prabphal Meemongkhol, said an investigation was underway to determine whether Arun had accidentally or intentionally released Sahachai.
Sahachai runs a number of businesses, allegedly including illegal ones such as smuggling oil and contraband items.
He was arrested after the May coup by soldiers and stands accused of financially aiding insurgents in Pattani and two other provinces - among other serious security-related crimes pending prosecution.
The Pattani provincial court recently sentenced him to 21 months' jail for forging a court seal.
A lawyer representing Sahachai, Winij Narathipraphas, said he was processing a request for his client's temporary release from jail when he disappeared.