Thailand police commandos raid ex-minister's home

Thailand police commandos raid ex-minister's home

Former minister Chaiya Sasomsub, whose home was the target of a search by commando police yesterday, has denied that his aides shot dead a policeman and gamblers in Nakhon Pathom province.

He also insisted that all weapons found on his estate were legally registered.

The politician, a deputy leader of the now-dissolved People Power Party, is widely seen as an influential figure in the province.

"There have been allegations against my aides. But I can guarantee that none of them are involved in the crimes," he said yesterday.

He spoke after 220 commando police carried out simultaneous raids at 13 target locations in Nakhon Pathom, including his house.

"I am ready to co-operate with officials," he said. "But I believe the allegations against my aides is an attempt to damage [my] reputation".

He refused, however, to speculate on whether he was being singled out due to his political affiliations.

Chaiya is seen as being close to the Pheu Thai Party, which lost power through the 2014 coup.

National police chief General Somyot Poompanmoung, meanwhile, firmly denied that Chaiya was being discriminated against.

"We took similar actions when blatant crimes affecting public morale took place," he said.

Earlier this month, he signed an order transferring many police out of Nakhon Pathom after several violent incidents took place recently, including the fatal shooting of a Special Branch policeman.

29 gun crimes this year

At least 29 gun-related crimes have taken place in Nakhon Pathom since January.

An informed source alleged that people from Chaiya's close circle were involved in many of these cases, adding that the former minister himself was facing legal action for alleged gun-related offences.

Crime Suppression Division (CSD) acting chief Colonel Akaradej Pimolsri led the team of commando police in the so-called "Pathom Chedi" operation yesterday.

In raids at 13 locations, police uncovered 19 pistols, six rifles, 1,106 rounds of ammunition, 27 magazines, 16 vehicle licence plates, one bullet-proof vest, two radio-communication devices and football betting lists. Many of the weapons were found at Chaiya's house.

Satisfactory results

Four suspects were also arrested during the searches.

"The operations aim to uphold the sanctity of the law," Akaradej said.

He said the operation was set up after several people complained to Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha that there had been many shootings in Nakhon Pathom. Some suspected gamblers were shot dead and investigations into these cases had made very little progress.

"So, we decided to search the estates of influential figures," Akaradej said.

The operation was carried out with collaboration of various police units, including CSD and the Provincial Police Region 7.

Akaradej said the raids had delivered satisfactory results, with a huge amount of guns and ammunition discovered. He said that police would man more checkpoints to see if anybody was illegally carrying arms.

"We will stage such operations not just in Nakhon Pathom, but in several other provinces as we strive to suppress crime and boost public safety," he said.

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