Sacked Thai palace official confesses to forestland encroachment, no longer trusted by King

Sacked Thai palace official confesses to forestland encroachment, no longer trusted by King
Police General Jumpol Manmai, who was fired after being accused by government for misconduct and political interests which were detrimental to national security, arrives at a court in Bangkok, Thailand March 2, 2017
PHOTO: Reuters

Sacked palace official Pol General Jumpol Manmai yesterday confessed to all the charges relating to his alleged forest encroachment, according to deputy national police chief Pol General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul.

He did not apply for a temporary release after his case was brought to court yesterday, Srivara said.

Jumpol's public appearance drew several dozen journalists and photographers as he surrendered to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) yesterday morning.

There had been speculation on social media regarding his whereabouts in recent days after he was accused last month of forest encroachment and building on public land, along with four other people, including his wife.

All of the accused, except Jumpol's wife Thanakorn, have turned themselves in to police.

Read also: 'Extremely evil' Thai palace official abused post for personal gain

Jumpol, 66, who is a former deputy national police chief, looked gaunt and tired as he arrived at the CSD headquarters in a grey T-shirt and jeans.

Srivara said yesterday that investigators were convinced that they had strong evidence against Jumpol in the form of documents, material evidence and witness accounts.

However, police have yet to charge him with violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, which involves lese majeste, Srivara said.

The Royal Household Bureau sacked Jumpol on Monday from his post as grand chamberlain in charge of security and special affairs. An order countersigned by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the former senior Palace official had been dismissed from duty because he had committed grave misconduct and had political interests deemed to be detrimental to national security, among other alleged wrongdoings.

Jumpol, the order said, had wrongly used his official position for personal gain and was no longer trusted by His Majesty the King.

Read also: Senior Thai palace official to face court after sacking

The former Palace official can appeal against the order with the Royal Household Bureau's civil service subcommittee within 30 days, according to the order.

The retired police general was questioned by police in relation to accusations that he encroached on Thap Lan National Park in Nakhon Ratchasima's Wang Nam Khiew district. He also underwent a physical check-up by medical personnel from the Police General Hospital.

After a little more than an hour of interrogation, Jumpol was later taken to Nakhon Ratchasima by military aircraft for further legal proceedings at the provincial court.

He was accompanied by senior police officers including Srivara, Central Investigation Bureau commissioner Pol Lt-General Thitiraj Nonghanpitak and CSD commander Pol Maj-General Suthin Sappuang.

King Vajiralongkorn takes part in Chinese funeral rite for the late King Bhumibol

Prominent career

Jumpol was brought back to Bangkok in the afternoon for further interrogation, police said.

He confessed to all the charges relating to alleged forest encroachment while appearing before Nakhon Ratchasima Provincial Court yesterday, Srivara said.

Srivara said police were gathering further evidence for public prosecutors to request Jumpol's detention at the court for 12 days during the police investigation.

He said the defendant did not apply for a temporary release.

While serving in the police force, Jumpol was a leading candidate to become the national police chief just a year before his retirement in 2010. He also served as the intelligence chief under Thaksin Shinawatra's government shortly before it was overthrown in the 2006 military coup.

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