Jirawong gets 7 years for lese majeste

4 08 2016

Jirawong Wattanathewasilp was secretly arrested on or about 16 October 2015 and charged with lese majeste. He has now been sentenced by a military court to 7 years jail, reduced by half for a guilty plea. Jirawong

He was accused of using his connections with the royal household – to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn – for financial gain.

Khaosod reports that a “military tribunal convicted an assistant to the Crown Prince’s late court astrologer of insulting the monarchy and sentenced him Monday to three and a half years in jail.”

His lese majeste travails are not over as he “will be tried twice more by the military court on the same charge for two other alleged offenses.” He was “immediately returned to the detention facility at the 11th Army Circle base on Bangkok’s Nakornchaisri Road, where he has been held since October, to await his further trials.”Vajiralongkorn

Khaosod states:

As with many other cases that involve the monarchy, the exact nature of the trio’s alleged wrongdoing was never made clear by police, and media agencies were instructed not to report about the scandal other than publishing official statements and authorized leaks.

Jirawong was initially detained with his boss Suriyan Sujaritpolwong, alias Mor Yong and Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapha, of the Technology Crime Suppression Division. There case was palace-related. The authorities froze some of their assets while comparing these cases with those surrounding former Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) chief Pongpat Chayaphan.

Initial reports said Suriyan had “confessed” while Jirawong and Prakrom denied the charges. Within a day, all were said to have “confessed.”

Prakrom was soon dead. He was said to have hung himself. Suriyan followed, with authorities denying his death. Only Jirawong survived custody (so far).

The massive pre-succession clearout of the prince’s previous allies and those of his former wife have been vicious,





Another victim of the royal scam

20 02 2016

We have used the word “scam” in the headline, but we admit that we do not know whose scam this is.

Back in October 2015 Suriyan Sujaritpalawong was secretly arrested and charged with lese majeste. He died in custody at a then secret prison on a military base in Bangkok. His death was not adequately explained and his body was hurriedly cremated.

Suriyan was a well-known fortune teller known to be a close aide to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and a chief organizer of the Bike For Mom and Bike for Dad propaganda events for the prince.

Also arrested were Jirawong Wattanathewasilp, Suriyan’s aide, and Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapha, an officer of the Technology Crime Suppression Division. Prakrom was also charged with lese majeste and also died in custody at the same prison at the military base. Like Suriyan, his death was not adequately explained and his body was cremated within hours of his death.

Khaosod now reports that “[h]igh-ranking police officials including a well-known police spokesman will be prosecuted for allegedly installing a communications device atop Bangkok’s tallest building for a ‘suspicious purpose’ during last August’s Bike for Mom event.”

“Suspicious purpose” raises all kinds of possibilities. We can recall that there were very confused claims, from the junta, of an “assassination plot.”

Is it this alleged “plot” that has “Lt. Gen. Prawut Thavornsiri and other unnamed officers face prosecution for malfeasance after their case was forwarded to the national police chief…”. The chief is meant to send the case to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

Could there have been such a plot? Who was the target?

Or could all of this be a further clipping of the prince’s wings? Or is it the prince getting rid of aides he’s fallen out with (a not uncommon event)? It remains guesses.

But back to Prawut, who has not been seen in public since 27 October “when he seemed to be swept up in a crackdown on officials said to be abusing their connections to the monarchy.”

An arrest warrant states that “Prawut for allegedly installing a radio transmitter on the Baiyoke Tower II during the Bike for Mom event.”

The report states that in October there was “a purge of high-level officials accused of defaming the monarchy by exploiting their links, one of the suspects, later found dead in his cell [presumably Prakrom], was accused of sneaking into the skyscraper to install radio devices taken from the Bung Kum Police Station.”

These radio devices were linked with five mobile phones found at Prakrom’s residence and allegedly “tuned in to the signal coming from Baiyoke II, which led to an accusation of unauthorized eavesdropping.”

Who was he alleged to be listening to? The prince? Other royal aides? The Dictator and his minions?

The report says nothing is yet known of “Prawut’s alleged criminal link was to Prakrom” and there is no “mention … of Prawut’s present whereabouts.”

All of this is confused and deliberately so.





Another Bike for Dad victim

24 01 2016

The military regime’s toadies must feel that sufficient time has passed following the bad publicity associated with the deaths in custody of “lese majeste” suspects Suriyan Sujaritpalawong and Prakrom Warunprapha to get back to the case.

The Bangkok Post reports that a “warrant has been issued for the arrest of a former deputy chief of the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) with an alleged link to a high-profile lese majeste case.”

Police Colonel Siwapong Patpongpanit is reportedly facing “charges of negligence of duty in connection with the possession of police radio communication devices.” Police Major Prakrom is said to have requested 100 “radio communication devices.” It isn’t clear if the devices were requested for the Bike for Mom/Bike for Dad events or for duties associated with Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn or something else. (We do know that the prince has plenty of communication devices, with all of his many cars have a multitude of aerials.)

The late Pol Maj Prakrom was said to have “more than 200 radio communication devices…”. That’s a lot of communicating!

The police allege that “Pol Col Siwapong, then the deputy CSD chief, handed over the devices to his fellow officer…”.

He has “been under a police watch for suspected links with a lese majeste network led by celebrity fortune-teller Suriyan…. Pol Col Siwapong was transferred to the Central Investigation Bureau before voluntarily resigning from the police service.”

This report reminds us that Jirawong Wattanathewasilp remains in custody. This is odd given that palace-related “lese majeste” cases have generally been resolved in record time, with the “suspects” pleading guilty and immediately being sentenced.





Graft and lese majeste

27 11 2015

Readers will no doubt have noticed that the Army’s corruption case involving the one-billion-baht Rajabhakti Park project has predictably gone rather quiet in recent days. Cover-ups do that and cover-ups work better when there are “distractions.” A few days ago, on this “project,” PPT asked “Who got the loot?” The Army and the military dictatorship do not want to provide any answers.

But how about the lese majeste case involving two dead men, one survivor and one gone missing? How much did Suriyan Sujaritpolwong, Jirawong Wattanathewasilp, Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapha and Col Khachachart Boondee gain by their alleged use of the royal connection?

We saw some early claims that their “fraud” involved some very big business interests. We were told that Prakrom was a kind of bag man, but we don’t know for whom. A list of supposedly ill-gotten gains was supplied:

… 26 rooms in La Maison Condominium on Soi Phahon Yothin 24. He had also paid for another four rooms worth 500,000 baht each but had not yet obtained the ownership rights…. Hundreds of thousands of baht in foreign currency, including US dollars and Japanese yen…. Several cars owned by Pol Maj Prakrom, including a Bentley, a Rolls-Royce, a Mercedes-Benz and a Toyota…. 10 valuable Buddha amulets [said to have]… belonged to Pol Col Akkharawut Limrat, the former chief of the Crime Suppression Division’s Sub-Division 1 and a former member of Pongpat’s network [Pongpat Chayapan] who died after falling from a building. [Of course, this “fall” was never properly investigated.] … [T]hree guitars, including one worth more than 400,000 baht [said to “belong” to Pongpat] … [and] several Buddha images … earlier … seized from Pongpat’s network…. [M]ore than 200 radio communication devices and five signal antennae…. Six police cars which Pol Maj Prakrom had ordered for use in his work have also disappeared.

How did Prakrom get stuff seized from Pongpat? What has happened to all of this stuff now? Has it simply been recycled to someone else who looks after it, as it seems to have been from Pongpat to Prakrom?

The latest bit of news on these three men and their supposedly ill-gotten gains comes from AMLO. Buried down in the story it states: “A source said AMLO had not found any assets in Prakrom’s name but it was trying to determine whether he put his properties in the names of other people.” Ah, well, the above report seemed to say otherwise….

The report goes on to reveal that the “Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) has frozen more than Bt44 million worth of assets belonging to several suspects linked to the ongoing high-profile lese-majeste case.”

That doesn’t sound to us like a huge haul. If these “suspects” were really using the royal name, then we would have guessed they’d be accumulating more than rich people’s change. About 75% of this “haul” is reported to belong to Khachachart alone.

Still AMLO declares: “We have grounds to believe these suspects violated anti-graft laws and anti-money-laundering laws…”.

As the report states, “Jirawong, Suriyan, Prakrom and Kachachart were charged with several crimes in relation to falsely citing the Royal Family for personal gain in the course of collecting donations and sponsorship.”

Based on the reports so far available, it seems that the “personal gain” was quite small in the scheme of corruption deals in Thailand. Perhaps they weren’t very good at corruption? Or perhaps the loot has already been redistributed or collected by a boss or bosses?





Updated: More princely lese majeste charges planned

25 11 2015

As the last survivor of the cohort of three arrested on or about 16 October 2015, so-called lese majeste suspect Jirawong Watthanathewasilp was again taken to the Military Court in Bangkok on Wednesday, and his detention at a prison inside a military base “was extended for the fourth time.” He is now detained until 7 December.Jirawong

The Post reports that “Jirawong  was escorted to the court by warders and soldiers. He appeared stressed and kept his head bent down as he entered the premises.”

Those arrested with him, Suriyan Sujaritpolwong, or Mor Yong, a fortune teller and Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapha have both died in mysterious circumstances in custody. All three men were previously associated with Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and seem to have fallen out with him or, depending on the rumor you hear, were separated from the prince’s entourage by those trying to neutralize or control the prince.prince and suthida

Meanwhile, it seems that these three cases are soon to be joined by several others.

Police now say that the Suriyan and associates case they are “investigating” is “wide-ranging.” In fact, all of this stuff is essentially concocted out of the “normal” things that people associated with the monarchy do. But someone higher up wants to have this done.

Police claim that they have now “sought warrants for several police and military officers…”.

The warrants are for the “arrest of Pol Col Pairote Rojkachorn, former chief of the 2nd sub-division of the Crime Suppression Division, Pol Lt Col Thammawat Hiranyalekha, former deputy chief of the CSD’s 2nd sub-division, and several other [unnamed] police and military officers and civilians.”

A police general stated that “they had committed lese majeste on different occasions in connection with one another.”Saturno devorando a su hijo

The courts are likely to quickly approve the warrants. Apparently, “[p]olice had been sent to keep the suspects under watch.  They would arrest them once the courts approved the warrants…”.

The general also stated:

It was not yet known whether three other police officers — an officer holding the rank of police general, an officer with the rank of police lieutenant general who was transferred to the Royal Thai Police’s operations centre yesterday, and Pol Maj Gen Akradej Pimolsri, chief of the Crime Suppression Division — would also be arrested for lese majeste charges….

It seems there are now 17 linked lese majeste cases.

Update: Khaosod names a third suspect and provides further details. The army officer involved is Maj. Gen. Suchart Prommai. It adds:

Suchart served as a senior adviser to the Royal Thai Army and personal aide to its former chief, Gen. Udomdej Sitabutr, who retired from the post in October. Pairoj and Thammawat are former officers from the Crime Suppression Division.

Udomdej’s days must be numbered. As we said previously, he’s likely to abscond now that the lese majeste and corruption dragnets involve him.

Khaosod includes this disclaimer:

Like other lese majeste cases and issues involving the monarchy, the ongoing investigation into the three suspects has been conducted in secret. Media agencies have been told by authorities not to report anything other than official statements and authorized disclosures.





Updated: Lese majeste in police force

22 11 2015

The Nation has a very brief report, pasted below in full:

Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) chief Pol Maj-General Thitirat Nonghanpitak yesterday admitted that an investigation had initially found two policemen, who had recently resigned from the bureau, might be involved in the violation of the lese majeste law under the Criminal Code’s Article 112.

The information was passed on to acting deputy police chief Pol Lt-General Sriwara Rangsipramanakul for further investigation and evidence gathering, he added. As for four other CIB policemen who were previously transferred to inactive posts, Thitirat said the probe so far had not found any involvement so far with Article 112 offences.

It seems to PPT that these claims relate to the cases of Suriyan Sujaritpalawong, Prakrom Warunprapha and Jirawong Wattanathewasilp.

Update: There’s also a story at the Bangkok Post, but no names are mentioned.





Updated: Jirawong produced in court

13 11 2015

Thai Rath is reporting that Jirawong Wattanathewasilp did get taken to the military court today.

Update: The Bangkok Post reports on Jirawong’s court appearance, under heavy guard.. The junta’s prosecutors sought a further 12-day detention period. Apparently they required a third detention period – now at least 36 days – for even more “investigation of charges he and two other suspects, both of whom have died in police custody, cited the monarchy in business dealings connected the ‘Bike for Mom’ and ‘Bike for Dad’ cycling events.”

We wonder how they could have done otherwise given that the two events are meant to promote Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn.

Even so, these “offenses” have resulted in perhaps the most bizarre set of lese majeste charges ever seen in Thailand.

PPT continues to be amazed by this case. Still, the prosecution claims that the three men committed 13 offenses, mostly “false claims that they represented a member of the royal institution [the prince] and had been commissioned to create commemorative pins for the royal biking events.”

To be honest, we think this was probably the case, and we remain in the dark as to the real “offense.”

That they “allegedly demanded kickbacks worth a total 5.9 million baht for pin supply contracts” seem small beer in the broader scheme of scams surrounding the monarchy.