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Parlour probe targets police over bribes

Parlour probe targets police over bribes

THURSDAY, June 09, 2016
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The Nation

AFTER TUESDAY’S raid on the Nataree Entertainment massage parlour in Bangkok’s Ratchadaphisek area for suspected human trafficking and prostitution, national police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda has ordered the Metropolitan Police to investigate and impose criminal and disciplinary punishments on policemen found involved with or collecting kickbacks from the premises. 
Besides removing 121 sex workers, including at least seven girls under 18, and arresting five suspects, the team led by the Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA) found logbooks detailing kickbacks to corrupt police that included Bt60,000 to the Children, Juvenile and Women’s Division; Bt76,000 to the Immigration Bureau; Bt30,000 to the Special Branch Division; Bt25,000 to the 191 Special Branch; and Bt24,000 to Huai Kwang Police Station.
Yesterday afternoon, to aid work at Metropolitan Police Area 1 pending the results of a fact-finding probe, chief Pol Maj-General Wichanwat Borirakkul issued transfer orders for Huai Kwang superintendent Pol Colonel Kittipong Wisetsa-nguan, his deputy Pol Lt-Colonel Satsak Chaiprasert, and two inspectors, Pol Lt-Colonel Jeerapol Prapanjan and Pol Lt-Colonel Supapat Sawatdee, from Police Area 1 pending the results of a fact-finding probe.
Deputy police spokesman Pol Maj-General Piyapan Pingmuang quoted Chakthip as instructing Acting Metropolitan Police chief Pol Lt-General Sanit Mahathaworn to report the details of the case as soon as possible. 
He said the case would be divided into three parts: criminal prosecution of the parlour, possibly with a human-trafficking charge; disciplinary probes against police in the jurisdiction; and investigation into alleged police involvement and “protection fee” collection. 
Piyapan said the Royal Thai Police gave importance to tackling human trafficking, which was on the national agenda and a main government policy. 
At Tuesday night’s press conference at the DOPA’s head office, Investigation and Legal Affairs Bureau director Piriya Chanthadilok said the raid was conducted by a 100-strong team comprising administrative officials, the Huai Khwang police, and Internal Security Operations Command officers. The raid stemmed from a tip by anti-trafficking non-governmental organisation Nvader. 
Affirming that the department would continue measures against human trafficking in all forms, Piriya urged the public to alert the authorities of any suspected human-trafficking activities via the Dhamrongtham hotline 1567 around the clock.
Criminal Investigation Division director Mana Simma said the massage parlour was a licensed entertainment venue but it allowed prostitution by underage girls, thus violating the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, the Service Establishment Act and the Anti-Money Laundering Act. 
Regarding the kickback allegations, the state officials involved would be subject to criminal and disciplinary punishments. He said the complaint and evidence would be filed with the local police to forward to the Office of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission for further action. 
As of 2pm yesterday, 121 sex workers – including Myanmar, Thai, Laotian and Cambodian nationals and ethnic-minority persons – plus five parlour employees were brought in two buses and five vans from the DOPA office to the Huai Khwang Police Station for interrogation.
As the parlour’s logbook also cited a payment to “Bangkok Metropolitan Administration”, Din Daeng district office director Saisri Hiratprasertwuth yesterday instructed officials to check all its departments to determine what such a payment was for and which official had received it. She affirmed that if a district official had received a kickback, that official would be punished as per civil-services regulations.