Pongpat Chayapan, the uncle of former Princess Srirasmi and former Central Investigation Bureau chief, is alleged to have developed a massive criminal network that apparently worked in the name of Prince Vajiralongkorn.
His deputy Pol Maj Gen Kowit Wongrungroj, former chief of the Marine Police Division Pol Maj Gen Boonsueb Phraithuean, former chief of the Anti-Human Trafficking Sub-Division 4 Pol Col Wuthichat Liansukhon, Pol Snr Sgt Maj Surasak Channgao and Pol Snr Sgt Maj Chattrin Laothong have been charged with lese majeste along with Pongpat.
On 30 January 2015, these men were convicted, sentenced to 12 years in jail, halved for guilty pleas.
Pongpat’s alleged criminal network is alleged to have used the Prince’s name in engaging in his huge number of alleged “crimes.”
Charges against them in three cases were brought on 29 January 2015 and they were convicted the following day. On such “delicate” cases with considerable political interest and high levels of “influence,” having them tried, convicted and locked away is demanded, but 24 hours was supersonic for the Thai “justice” system.
Pongpat and his former deputy Pol Maj Gen Kowit Wongroongroj “were charged with lese majeste, malfeasance and provision for gambling.” On the lese majeste charge, the Bangkok Post reported that the duo “allegedly put the Royal Crest pin on their shoulders and put a badge bearing the portrait of … Prince Dhipankara Rasmijoti, the son of … Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and the former … Princess Srirasm, on their left pockets at all times to indicate the casino they were protecting had the palace’s backing.”
We would suggest that the this claim to protection carried considerable weight given that Pongpat was Srirasmi’s uncle and the prince was widely rumored to be involved in gambling dens.
It is also reported that a second case involved Pol Lt Gen Pongpat, Pol Maj Gen Kowit and Pol Maj Gen Boonsueb were charged with soliciting and accepting bribes, malfeasance and lese majeste.
The indictment on those charges claimed that these men “committed lese majeste because they wore police uniforms with a badge bearing … Prince Dhipankara Rasmijoti’s portrait on the pockets when they solicited the bribes. Pol Maj Gen Boonsueb also allegedly pointed to the badge and claimed the bribes would be submitted to their supervisor and then to the prince.”
We wonder if any evidence of the prince’s involvement could even have been considered. In other words, we doubt that these men could have even considered defending themselves.
A third case involved “Pol Lt Gen Pongpat, Pol Maj Gen Kowit and Pol Col Vutthichart Luensukan, 46, a former chief of the police Consumer Protection Division, Pol Snr Sgt Maj Surasak Channgao, 50, and Pol Snr Sgt Maj Chattrin Laothong, 48, who were all accused of receiving bribes for transfers and promotion at the CIB.” That is pretty much “normal” in the police, and has been so for decades.
In early December 2015, backdated to 23 November, Pongpat and two of his associates, Kowit Wongrungroj and Boonsueb Praithuen, were officially stripped of their royal decorations and police ranks.
Media accounts of the Pongpat 5’s cases:
For a range of media stories, see Pongpat Chayapan’s page.
Bangkok Post, 5 December 2015: “Pongpat and aides stripped of rank, decorations”
Bangkok Post, 30 January 2015: “Pongpat sent to prison for 6 years in first case”
Prachatai, 30 January 2015: “Criminal court sentenced two high ranking police accused of lese majeste to 12 years in prison”
Bangkok Post, 28 December 2014: “Pongpat charges ready for prosecutors”
Khaosod, 14 December 2014: “Police Expand Investigation Over ‘Lese Majeste Foodstuff Conspiracy’”
Bangkok Post, 11 December 2014: “Pongpat cohort hauled in“