The political murders of 2010

4 02 2023

The Bangkok Post reports on a case that recalls the political murder of red shirts in 2010.

The Supreme Court is reported to have “issued an arrest warrant for former Department of Special Investigation (DSI) director-general Tharit Pengdit … in a malfeasance case brought against him and three other parties.”

PPT has never been much of a fan of the man we called The Eel.

This malfeasance case has been lodged by “former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who was also in charge of the now-defunct Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situation when handling anti-government protests in 2010, which led to political mayhem and violence.”

The good old days at the Army Club

Abhisit and Suthep accuse Tharit and three others of “malfeasance over their roles in unfairly pushing to press murder charges against them in connection with their handling of the 2010 violence.”

Of course, Abhisit and Suthep were running a government that unleashed the murderous military, resulting in up to 100 deaths, almost all red shirts. Various courts, in the few cases taken on, confirmed that the military did the killing.

The investigations came under the government led by Yingluck Shinawatra and one of the outcomes of the 2014 coup was the end of any serious investigation of the murders.

The report states that the other three defendants are all senior police involved in the investigation of the murders.

You get the picture. Tharit and the police are being pilloried for their betrayal of the ruling elite and threatening their impunity to murder to protect its regime.

NACC missing in inaction

21 12 2018

The National Anti-Corruption Commission is a politicized and partisan organization. Meant to be an independent agency, it is a tool of the military junta and other anti-democrats.

The Bangkok Post reports that a legal pressure group has pushed the NACC “to speed up probes into irregularities in police station construction projects, saying the anti-graft agency would be held to account if they failed to do so.”

“Speed up” is a euphemism for “do something!”

The case referred to is the “construction of 396 police stations in question, worth 6.67 billion baht, was part of a project endorsed by cabinet members during the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration.” Of course, this (non)investigation by the NACC involves then “deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban was accused of not having consulted fellow ministers regarding changes made later to the project. He allegedly granted PCC Development & Construction the right to be the sole contractor, which was accused of abandoning the project later.” THe question is, who pocketed the money. No prizes for guessing.

So, exactly how long has the NACC been (not) investigating? The report states the “NACC in 2013 set up a panel to determine whether Mr Suthep had breached Section 157 of the Criminal Code by committing misconduct or dereliction of duty regarding his handling of the project.”

Sometime in some junta-inspired fairy tale, the NACC said it would wrap up “the case by the end of this year.” They have another 10 days.

We wonder if the (non)investigation of Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s dead man’s watches is going on for another four years? We guess that if the junta pulls of its stolen election, four years would be just about enough for another junta-led government to see out its term.

But there’s a twist to Suthep’s (non)investigation. Just a few days ago, completely out of the blue and following two acquittals, Tharit Pengdit, formerly of the Department of Special Investigation, changed a plea to guilty in a defamation suit against him by Suthep, lodged in 2013.How’s that work? Who threatened Tharit?

We can only marvel at how the “justice system” works so well for the great and the good, implementing double standards and protecting big shots in business, politics and the civil and military bureaucracies.

The junta just adores such pliable non-independence.

Updated: Things that make you go, hmm

15 12 2018

There’s a lot going on, so this is a catch-up on a few media stories worth considering. And these are all from the Bangkok Post!:

Watana gets off: The Criminal Court has found Puea Thai politician and junta critic Watana Muangsook not guilty in a quite ridiculous charge related to comments he made about the vandalism associated with the stealing of the 1932 plaque from the Royal Plaza.

The court said Watana’s comments:

were opinions that could not be deemed a computer crime. They posed no threat to security…. The court said his messages could be considered in the context of academic freedom and his criticism of authorities did not reflect ill intent.

The ridiculousness of the charge is that the junta has never done anything to find those responsible for stealing the plaque and replacing it with a royalist plaque that could easily have been composed in the palace. Of course, the authorities have done nothing because they know exactly who ordered its removal and replacement.

EC makes false promises: By now readers know that we think the Election Commission is totally compromised. So a promise to be clear about the election is simply impossible. Where it is closer to the truth it is in stating: “This is all about establishing credibility by generating information that is reliable and correct for the international community.” What EC president Ittiporn Boonpracong might have said was that the EC’s job is establishing credibility for the junta’s election by generating information that obfuscates. After all, that’s its track record to date. That impression of the EC’s bias is reinforced when Ittiporn mumbles that “foreign envoys did not appear to have any concerns about predictions by some critics of that the poll would be ‘less than free and fair’.” Of course, no one expects a free or fair election. Even the Bangkok Post has been forced to question the EC’s “independence” and “credibility.” Is the EC’s task just to give “credibility” to the junta’s rigged election?

Parliament has no home: The parliament building has been closed and will be given to the king. So the bureaucracy of the parliament and the puppet National Legislative Assembly is homeless. Why the Royal Household Bureau can’t wait for a few months is never explained by the fearful Thai media. Consider the fact that the NLA seems to have been caught unaware by this move and has only just begun to look for a expensive, temporary home. Why’s that?

The Eel jailed: The exceptionally slippery Tharit Pengdit and Suthep Thaugsuban used to be tight, at least when Suthep was managing the crushing of the red shirts. They later fell out and became enemies as DSI led investigations into Suthep’s role in the gunning down of protesters. The enmity was further deepened when Suthep accused Tharit of defamation in February 2013. This had to do with corruption over police buildings under the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime. In two court cases in 2015 and 2016, Tarit was found not guilty. Suthep appealed to the Supreme Court. So the question is why Tarit suddenly decided to plead “guilty” before the case was concluded and why is he now jailed for a year. That makes you think.

Guess who?: In a two horse race between consortia of some of the biggest and best-connected Sino-Thai tycoons for the contract to build a high-speed railway connecting three major airports, the one led by CP has won. As well as winning, they get a state subsidy of almost 120 billion baht. Makes you wonder how rich the richest non-royals can get.

Update: The authorities have assured Thailand that CP didn’t “win” the bid for the HSR. They just had the lowest bid and negotiations are now needed with the CP consortium in order to determine whether they will win. Funny way to do tendering, but we are willing to bet on the outcome, as we were before the two bids were opened.

NACC boss and his political blink

24 01 2018

There’s been much criticism of Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, the junta-appointed head of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, and his role in the investigation/attempted cover-up of the Deputy Dictator’s luxury watches.

As a subordinate posterior polisher, almost everyone knew that if he stayed in place for the “investigation” of General Prawit Wongsuwan, then the outcome was going to be flawed.

After more than a month of criticism and deepening and widening political criticism, The Nation reports that Watcharapol has had a political blink and “will withdraw himself from examination of the case concerning Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan’s multimillion-baht collection of wristwatches.”

Too little too late as Watcharapol’s fingerprints are all over the case. Even so, it is an indication that Prawit is in deep trouble.

At the same time, Worawit Sukboon, secretary-general of the NACC, announced at a press conference that “the NACC had asked Prawit for a third time to provide further information about how he came to possess so many luxury watches.” The NACC seems to come up with a different excuse each day for the failure to make progress. A couple of days ago they were awaiting the return from overseas of a “witness.”

Worawit did say that the “investigation should be completed by the end of February.”

And, then, presciently added: “If the watches do indeed turn out to belong to Prawit’s friends, he could not be judged guilty of concealing assets … but the NACC would consider other legal aspects of the case.”

If he is found to have concealed assets, the political costs will be high, but the legal costs will likely be minuscule. Just a few days ago, The Eel also known as the former Department of Special Investigation (DSI) director-general Tarit Pengdith received a suspended 3-month jail sentence and a 5,000 baht fine “for concealment of assets worth millions…”.

Supreme Court confirms double standards

31 08 2017

The only standards promoted by Thailand judiciary are double standards. This has been demonstrated time and again, and most especially since the illegal 2014 military coup. (Illegal because it was unconstitutional, but ruled legal by the courts.)

Who was that who stated this?

There is no tyranny more cruel than that which is perpetrated under color of the laws and in the name of justice—when, so to speak, one is drawn down and drowned by means of the very plank which should have borne him up and saved his life.

Montesquieu was writing in the 18th century and of martial Rome, but his view matches Thailand, where a kid can be murdered by the Army and it doesn’t get to court and that Army can operate on foreign soil and enforce the disappearance of a regime enemy, presumably murdered. It is a country where even mild or hinted criticism of the regime or The Dictator warrants a sedition charge. It is a regime where opposition politicians get decades in jail for “malfeasance” where The Dictator is protected by a “law” that allows him to do anything he wants with no fear of the law.

Shooting red shirts

We could go on and on but to the point of this post. Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban have been, in the words of Prachatai, “whitewashed” on their role in ordering two violent military crackdowns on red shirts in 2010, leaving around a hundred people dead and thousands injured.

We at PPT are not at all surprised by this. After all, all the Supreme Court was doing was confirming the double standards established by the lower courts and the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

As if to confirm how warped Thailand’s judiciary has become, on 9 June 2017, the very same Supreme Court “accepted a lawsuit against Tharit Pengdit, former director-general of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), and three other persons” for bringing murder charges against the ruling elite’s stooges.

An AP photo from the Telegraph: Protesters surround the coffins used for the bodies of red shirts killed in clashes with troops.

Washing away the blood

12 06 2017

There’s no debate. In April and May 2010, the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime ordered troops to clear red shirt protesters. Those military actions left about 100 dead and thousands injured. Almost all of the dead were civilians.

Abhisit’s then deputy  Suthep Thaugsuban says he gave the orders. That a prime minister shirks responsibility for the work of his government is a clear statement of Abhisit’s gormless egoism. In any case, it means little in a context where the regime had established the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situations as a collective organization for making decisions on the crackdowns. As premier, Abhisit established CRES and was part of it while Suthep was its director.

Other members included then Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, now Deputy Dictator, then Army boss General Anupong Paojinda and former Department of Special Investigation boss Tharit Pengdit. Its secretary was the notorious fabricator, Thawil Pliensri.

The Army, Abhisit and Suthep have repeatedly claimed that soldiers weren’t responsible for any deaths, blaming “men in black.” This despite the fact that, for example, courts finding soldiers responsible for many of the deaths and that more than 100,000 live rounds were used in 2010, with more than 2,000 sniper rounds used.

The Abhisit and Suthep denial of responsibility has gone on for years and the “justice” system has agreed with them, kind of. The “justice” system has said they gave “legal” orders.

Prachatai reports that the Supreme Court “has accepted a lawsuit against a former chief investigator who dared to accuse Abhisit and Suthep of murder for ordering the bloody military crackdown on anti-establishment red-shirt protesters in 2010.”

That “investigator” is the eel himself, the former DSI boss, Tharit. Since the 2014 coup, the junta, royalists and the elite have vigorously gone after Tharit for his perceived betrayals.

The accepted lawsuit is against Tharit and his deputies and a couple of investigators. It is stated that the “four comprised the team tasked with investigating the violent crackdown on the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) demonstrators, the main red shirt faction, between April-May 2010.”

Now that the “justice” system dismissed all charges against Abhisit and Suthep, often based on false evidence, including from Thawil, those two Democrat Party bosses and supporters of two military coups are seeking restitution of their “reputations.” They accused the DSI team of “corruption and propagating false accusations against them, claiming that the DSI did not have the authority to investigate the crackdown in the first place.”

Both the Court of First Instance and the Appeal Court dismissed charges against the four, but the Supreme Court has done its job and agreed to hear the “case.”

Given that almost everyone involved in the murderous crackdowns is a part of the military junta or worked hard to promote its coup, that the “justice” system supports them should be no surprise. After all, Thailand has double standards precisely to serve the interests of the great, the “good” and the wealthy.

We can now expect that the Supreme Court will continue to punish Tharit and launder the blood from the clothes of those who ordered the murderous crackdown.

16 year sentence in palace lese majeste case

5 04 2016

The Criminal Court has sentenced a “property dealer” to 16 years imprisonment on lese majeste charges. Boontham Boonthepprathan, 65, was reduced by 4 years, to 12 years, for his “useful testimony during the trial.”

He was “charged with causing damage to the monarchy … in connection with his request for title deeds to several hundred rai [700 rai] of land in Khao Nong Chuam area in tambon Khanong Phra of Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Chong district during 2007-2008.”

Some parts of the land belonged to the military area and some “were reserved as headwaters for streams, not eligible for inclusion on a title deed.”

It was claimed that “Boontham allegedly claimed he had a good connection with Pol Lt Gen Pongpat Chayapan, a former Central Investigation Bureau commissioner, close to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s palace when the prince was married to the Princess Srirasmi.

Boontham is said to have “cited the royal institution [we assume this means the prince or Srirasmi or both] to persuade Setthawut Pengdit, another “land broker and younger brother of former Department of Investigation chief Tarit Pengdith, to collude with him in applying for land title deeds.”

Boontham Thepprathan was accused of lese majeste in February 2015 and arrested by police on 27 February 2015. He is  reportedly a proprietor of the Colonze massage parlor-entertainment complex-cum-illegal casino and is often described as a property developer.

Boontham joins more than two dozen others accused or convicted of lese majeste in cases related to this royal separation and the purging of the Srirasmi family and associates network.

It appears that this murky deal involved the army, police and “investors” making the land transferable by having the certificates illegally changed to “title deeds” without telling the residents. It is reported that Setthawut had made a “false” claim to land officials, using the name of former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayapan, that the land would be used for a palace.

It is quite a believable scenario that farmers would lose their land to “investors.” It is also conceivable that land could be acquired for a “palace;” this has happened before. That the Army and police would be involved in such deals is quite normal in rural Thailand.

Boontham is reportedly considering an appeal. Given the persons involved, that might not be a good idea.

All them crooks

11 03 2016

The Nation reports that the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has found that The Eel, Tharit Pengdit, is “unusually rich.” NACC members “voted unanimously” in finding that Tarit had “unlawfully” amassed assets worth Bt346.65 million.

As anyone who has read PPT for several years will know, we have little sympathy for Tharit, the former Department of Special Investigation chief. We call him The Eel to recognize his demonstrated capacity to slither from supporting a murderous government – the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime – and throwing that government’s political opponents in jail to become an enforcer for the opponents against his former bosses when he slithered across to the Yingluck Shinawatra administration.

The NACC decided “to order the Civil Court to seize Bt90.26 million worth of [his] assets…” before charging him.Snouts

The NACC says that Tharit “allegedly transferred and hid most of the Bt346.65 million so the NACC was only able to freeze Bt90.26 million of assets owned by Tarit and his wife.” The NACC considered this amount to be “more wealth than a government official could earn lawfully.”

If 346 million baht is too much for government official to earn lawfully, then why isn’t there investigation of members of the junta and the armed forces for unusual wealth? Former junta top cop Somyos Pumpanmuang amassed declared assets of almost 375 million baht. We have previously noted this cop’s connections with shady business groups. We count 11 “government officials” who have submitted assets lists totaling greater than 250 million baht and up to almost 1 billion baht. It wasn’t that long ago that the NACC cleared The Dictator of any unusual wealth.

So why has Tharit been grabbed? It is because he is considered a traitor to the ruling elite. It seems that when one is corrupt but serving the royalist elite, that’s all fine and dandy. When one goes to the other side, that will be punished. And, the point is that the punishment is then a warning to the other corrupt bastards that they need to know who’s buttering their bread and cooking their rice.

A land deal lese majeste conviction

14 05 2015

Thai PBS News reports that Setthawut Pengdit, a younger brother of ousted Department of Special Investigation chief Tharit Pengdit, was sentenced to five years jail for lese majeste. As in many recent cases, because he agreed to “confess” and plead guilty, his sentence was halved to two years and six months.

In this report, Setthawut is described as “a land broker,” and in this role he “was accused of persuading land officials to issue title deeds for a land plot in Khao Nongcherm, Tambon Khanong Phra, Pak Chong district, which could not be legally bought or sold because it was part of reformed land scheme.” It was alleged that, with “land developer” Boontham Thepprathan, who wanted to establish a “high-end resort,”  Setthawut “claimed he knew Pol Lt-Gen Pongpat Chayaphan, former Central Investigation Bureau commissioner, and Pol Maj-Gen Kowit Wongrungroj, a former deputy commissioner, and could help arrange for the issuance of land title deeds for the land.” Earlier reports had it that the two claimed a “palace” was to be built.

It appears that this murky deal involved the army, police and “investors” making the land transferable by having the certificates illegally changed to “title deeds” without telling the residents.

Pongpat has already been sentenced to 12 years and Kowit to the same, both halved for guilty pleas, along with more than two dozen others involved in cases of association with Srirasmi, the former third wife to Prince Vajiralongkorn.

While the report states that Setthawut used Pongpat’s name, apparently the “court found Mr Setthavuth guilty of lese majeste charge for claiming connection with the high institution [the monarchy and, in this case, the prince] to help facilitate the issuance of land title deeds.”

On Boontham, “who denied the charge,” it is stated that “the court dropped the case against him and recommended the prosecution to file a separate charge against him.” It is unclear if this is a different charge or another lese majeste charge.

More lese majeste charges linked to prince

22 02 2015

The Bangkok Post reports that lese majeste cases have been made against two further men associated with Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s housecleaning following his separation from third wife Srirasmi late last year. We think the total number of lese majeste cases related to this event is now 29.

Setthawut Pengdit, who is a younger brother of former Department of Special Investigation chief Tarit Pengdit, “has turned himself in to police after a warrant was issued for his arrest.”

He and Boontham Thepprathan, a proprietor of the Colonze massage parlor-entertainment complex-cum-illegal casino, are accused of lese majeste. Boontham has not yet surrendered.

The lese majeste charges came after some 50 residents of the Lamtakong self-help settlement in the Pak Chong district “accused the pair of issuing unlawful title deeds…”. The deeds were allegedly for “more than 700 rai to Ban Chum Thong Co and Khaoyai Beverly Hill Co…”. That land is said to belong “to an army infantry unit” and that the “unit had loaned the land to the settlement, which issued Nor Kor 3 land ownership documents to the residents.”

It appears that this murky deal involved the army, police and “investors” making the land transferable by having the certificates illegally changed to “title deeds” without telling the residents. It is reported that “Setthawut had allegedly made a false claim to land officials — citing the name of former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayapan — that the land would be developed into a palace for the royal family.”

The report adds: “There is speculation that Pol Lt Gen Pongpat, convicted of a raft of charges involving a crime network, might be involved in the case as he is closely acquainted with Mr Boontham…”.

Setthawut has allegedly confessed.

It is quite a believable scenario that farmers would lose their land to “investors.” It is also conceivable that land could be acquired for a “palace;” this has happened before. That the Army and police would be involved in such deals is quite normal in rural Thailand.

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