By THE NATION
The move was made to ensure transparency and the public’s confidence and trust, according to deputy police spokesman Pol Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen yesterday.
The transfer was announced hours after president of a crime victim’s rights group submitted a petition to national police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda, asking for the temporary removal of a police officer from the province to ensure the fairness of the investigation.
The deputy police spokesman did not mention the petition made by Achariya Rueng-Rattanapong of the Help Crime Victims Club, but said the transfer was aimed at ensuring transparency and to enable police to answer the public’s queries about the scandal.
The case involves a retired police officer and a teacher, who both claim ownership of the tickets that won Bt30 million in the November 1 lottery draw.
The recent investigation, led by Provincial Police Region 7 commander Pol Lt-General Kittipong Ngaomuk, appeared to favour the teacher, Preecha Kraikuan, who claimed he bought but lost the winning tickets. He filed a complaint with police about the missing tickets a day after the draw and told police that a man had already claimed the cash.
Police then found that retired police lieutenant Charoon Wimul had claimed the money. Police earlier said that they would file charges of embezzlement or receipt of stolen items against Charoon after witnesses claimed they saw him pick up the winning tickets from the street in the area.
Achariya told reporters after submitting his petition that the public did not trust the investigation by police in the area. He wanted to see Pol Maj-General Suthi Puangpikul, whose role in the case has attracted negative criticism, transferred out of the area for 15 days so that the scandal could be settled.
“If Suthi is removed from the area, I’m sure that the probe could be conducted in not more than a week,” he said.
Denying that he knew either Charoon or Preecha, Achariya said he had submitted to Chakthip evidence that his team had gathered. He said he would go to headquarters of provincial police 7th region today to hand over important evidence, including audio and video clips.
Achariya said on his Facebook Live feed that the teacher was not the rightful winner.
“We have secretly worked with police and concluded that Preecha is not the owner of the lottery tickets, as unusual information has been found,” he said. “We found six suspects involved in a network to claim the money – including two government officials who have expertise and experience in the judicial system.”
Achariya said the officials were witnesses for Preecha and claimed that they saw the lottery vendor hand the tickets to him. Both officials did so to get a share of the winning money, he added.
Referring to lottery vendors who reportedly claimed to see Charoon pick up tickets that Preecha had dropped in the street, Achariya said their accounts seemed to be suspicious. He said their stalls were about 20 to 40 metres away from the place where the tickets were allegedly dropped.This may be too far away for them to see the numbers.