The owner of the Pattaya-based Grand Hall Market, Suppakrit "Hia Jua" Akkalertlart, insisted yesterday that he didn't assault Pol Lt-Colonel Kwanpichai Manocharoensub, a deputy superintendent from Crime Suppression Division subdivision 2, and other plain-clothed police on Friday evening.
Supprakrit said a fight that had erupted stemmed from a non-police subordinate of Kwanpichai allegedly trying to seize a vendor's goods at the market despite objections from the vendor. He spoke after going to see police yesterday morning.
In an anti-counterfeit goods operation, Kwanpichai and his team tried to arrest four shop owners but were allegedly attacked by as many as a dozen vendors from the market in Soi Bua Khao in southern Pattaya.
Kwanpichai received bruising to his body and a cut under his eye that required seven stitches.
Pol Lieutenant Rapipong Saratee received a head wound that required three stitches, while three other police officers and two informants sustained bruising.
Suppakrit, 61, claimed that although Kwanpichai identified himself as a police officer by flashing a card, he quickly put the card back in his wallet. He said a member of the raid team who was putting reportedly fake brand-name sunglasses into a bag told him that he wasn't a police officer. He said he told the person that he couldn't take the goods because it was stealing.
"I angrily held up my hand to hit him in the head, but he choked me so vendors came to help me, leading to the fight," he said. Suppakrit said Kwanpichai and the other injured people were trying to break up the melee and copped stray hits.
The sunglasses vendor, Nampol Sattaku, 26, claimed police didn't present official paperwork before one team member grabbed his shirt collar and held him while his goods were seized.
He said he subsequently alerted Suppakrit so he could talk to police but the situation got out of hand.
Police have charged Suppakrit with obstruction and assaulting police officers while performing their duty - an offence punishable by up to five years in jail and/or a Bt10,000 (S$399) fine. He was let go after questioning.
Police are looking for others who were involved in the incident.