Search Warrant Issuance
Deputy national police chief Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn has criticized the search of his home in Bangkok, claiming it was dishonest and politically motivated. The search was conducted by cyber crime police, who provided only the house number when obtaining a warrant. According to Pol Gen Surachate, many officers involved in the search were aware that it was his residence.
Allowing Entry and Search Results
Initially, Pol Gen Surachate refused to let the officers inside. However, he changed his mind after speaking with the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau (CCIB) commissioner. The search ultimately yielded no illegal findings.
Arrest Warrants for Subordinates
Pol Gen Surachate acknowledged that eight other police officers, for whom the CCIB had obtained arrest warrants, were under his command. He emphasized the importance of examining their financial transactions to determine whether they were involved in online gambling website operations as alleged. If arrested, the officers would need to clarify the allegations.
Internal Politics and Reputation
The deputy police chief believes the search was an attempt to damage his reputation and discredit him, linking the incident to politics within the Office of the Royal Thai Police. Pol Gen Surachate has handled numerous criminal cases implicating police officers and understands that this could generate animosity.
Origins of the House Searches
According to Pol Lt Gen Trairong Phiewphan, chief of the Office of Legal Affairs and Litigation of the Royal Thai Police, the nationwide search of 30 houses in six provinces resulted from the arrests of three suspects tied to 12 gambling websites in July. Subsequent investigations led to arrest warrants for 23 additional suspects, including eight police officers. Some of these officers appeared to be website administrators, while others acted as coordinators.
Cyber Crime Police’s Knowledge
Pol Lt Gen Trairong claimed that the cyber crime police who searched Pol Gen Surachate’s house did not know it belonged to him, as the official domicile registration listed a civilian owner. Therefore, the search was not considered an act of persecution.
Suspect Arrests and Detentions
Out of the 23 suspects with arrest warrants, 17 have been apprehended, including eight police officers. The search for the remaining six civilians is ongoing. Police plan to seek court permission for further detainment, leaving decisions regarding bail up to investigators and the court. Pol Lt Gen Trairong has not received a report on the suspects’ statements but maintains that the arrests were made with proper evidence from a two-month-long investigation.