Warrants for 2 army officers and 2 police officers in Thailand over royal defamation case

Two police officers also wanted in lese majeste case involving Suriyan.

THE BANGKOK Military Court yesterday issued warrants for the arrest of two high-ranking Army officers and two senior police officers in connection with the high-profile lese majeste case involving late fortune-teller Suriyan "Mor Yong" Sujaritpolwong.

The four have been named as Maj-General Suchart Prommai, Colonel Kachachart Boondee, Pol Colonel Pairoj Rojanaka-chorn and Pol Lt-Colonel Thammawat Hirunya-lekha.

Suchart was an aide of former Army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr, who is now serving as deputy defence minister. Pairoj and Thammawat both recently quit the Crime Suppression Division.

Later yesterday, the court endorsed a police request for an arrest warrant for fugitive Kachachart. Previously working for the Third Army Area in the North, Kachachart has reportedly fled to Myanmar.

The PM's Office yesterday ordered the revocation of Kachachart's military rank and royal decorations due to his "severe wrongdoing". The order was signed by Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan.

In the lese majeste case, Suriyan, who allegedly died of a blood infection while in military detention recently, was accused of citing the monarchy for personal gains while collecting donations for the "Bike for Mom" cycling event in August. Other suspects in the case were Pol Major Prakrom Warun-prapa, who reportedly hanged himself while in military detention, and Suriyan's secretary Jirawong Watthanathe-wasilp.

The Bangkok Military Court yesterday approved the extension of Jirawong's detention at the 11th Military Circle for 12 days for the fourth time until December 7.

Deputy national police chief Pol General Sriwara Ransibhramanakul said yesterday the police were seeking to arrest four to 10 people in connection with the lese majeste case, including police and military officers.

Requests have already been made and police were waiting for court permission to issue the arrest warrants, he said. Sriwara said some of the suspects were part of Suriyan's network though some were not part of the late fortune-teller's group.

He said the police investigators found that Suriyan was the mastermind of this group. "He was the big boss of the group," Sriwara added.

The deputy police chief also said he was confident they had sufficient evidence against the suspects in the form of documents, witnesses and scientific proof. "We will not rely on confessions or accusations made by the suspects," he added.

However, Sriwara dismissed speculation that three police officers who held the rank of general, some of whom had resigned and some of whom had been moved to inactive posts, were also involved in the case.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) has confiscated assets worth Bt30 million (S$1.2 million) in connection with this lese majeste case, said Seehanat Prayoonrat, its secretary-general.

Seehanat said more than 10 items had been confiscated from Suriya, Prakrom and Jirawong, as well as other people who were involved with them. He said the assets were obtained from businesses that made donations to the Bike for Mom event through the suspects, who later used the assets for their own benefit.