Former Thai CIB chief taken to remand prison

Former Thai CIB chief taken to remand prison

Former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pol Lt-General Pongpat Chayaphan was sent to Bangkok Special Remand Prison yesterday after the Criminal Court rejected his request for temporary release on bail.

Pongpat, who is at the centre of a high-profile police corruption case, was brought to the prison after the court agreed to a police request for him to be detained further, as part of the police investigation.

Corrections Department director general Witthaya Suriyawong said yesterday that the disgraced crime-buster would be treated in the same way as other inmates in the prison.

Pongpat looked visibly pale and weak when police brought him to the court yesterday for the proceeding. In seeking his further detention, police investigators said they feared that he might use his influence as a senior police officer to interfere with evidence and witnesses in the case.

To date, police have arrested 17 out of 22 suspects in the case, and they are seeking five others who are still at large. Two of those arrested have been released on bail.

Pongpat, his deputy Pol Maj-General Kowit Wongrungroj, and some other suspects in the case have admitted guilt during the investigation, including the charge of lese majeste, according to police.

Large amounts of cash and rare artefacts in possession of Pongpat and other suspects have been confiscated, as well as Buddha images and amulets, gold and wood.

Meanwhile, police said yesterday three of the safes confiscated from the houses of Pongpat's family members contained no valuable items, Royal Thai Police spokesman Pol Lt-General Prawut Thawornsiri said yesterday. He said it was possible that any valuables in the safes might have been removed before they were confiscated by police.

Also yesterday, police confiscated some 400 planks of coveted wood from a house in Nonthaburi whose owner is said to be a cohort of Pongpat in his ring, according to police.

In a related development, the royally-bestowed surname Akharapongpreecha has been cancelled and users have been told to change back to their previous family name, police said yesterday. Some suspects in Pongpat's case use this surname.

Prawut said that police would open three more safes, each 1.7 metres high, tomorrow - adding that they were confiscated from Pongpat's house in Chaeng Wattana. He is convinced that valuables will be found inside the safes.

Colonel Watcharin Phusit, who led to police raid on the Nonthaburi house, said that police confiscated all the wood planks and some contained Forestry Department stamp marks.

He said the owner was required to produce evidence to prove the wood was acquired legally.

Prawut said that police had received a letter from HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn's secretary informing them about the cancellation of the surname.

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