By KESINEE TANGKHIAO,
THE OFFICE of the Attorney-General (OAG) announced yesterday that the three public prosecutors who had been transferred would be reinstated if they are found innocent.
The three men are Vathit Suwanying, provincial public prosecutor in Songkhla’s Na Thawi district, his deputy Manoch Rammasin and Nanthawut Utsahatan, Samut Sakhon deputy provincial public prosecutor.
In response to reports that the two Na Thawi prosecutors may have been wrongfully targeted, Justice Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya insisted that transfer order from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in his capacity as National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) chief was not a mistake. Prayut had invoked the interim charter’s Article 44 to order the transfers.
OAG deputy spokesman Prayut Petchakhun told the press yesterday that his office had not received a report from the Centre for National Anti-Corruption (CNAC) on the grounds of the transfers, adding that when the office receives the report, Attorney-General Pongniwat Yuthapanboriparn will assign a fact-finding panel to investigate the allegations. The OAG investigation should be finished 30 days after the assignment and if the accused are found innocent they will be reinstated to their old positions, although not necessarily in the same provinces.
Spokesman Prayut also dismissed a previous report that the OAG had already cleared the three prosecutors and reported the findings to deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam. The spokesman also said that rumours that the transfers were prompted by a gambling den bust and human-trafficking cases were started by the prosecutors themselves, and may or may not match the NCPO’s reasons.
The OAG spokesman said Vathit had an impressive work record, and the bosses of both Manoch and Nanthawut had guaranteed their clean records, but they would still be investigated. The premier also dismissed rumours that prosecutors nationwide were planning a movement against the transfer orders.
However, Prayut refused to respond when asked if the three could sue the person who filed allegations against them if they are found innocent. In response to a question about whether prosecutors could still conduct investigations involving the military, Prayut said they have the freedom to work normally and human-trafficking cases the three prosecutors had worked on are already in court.
Meanwhile, CNAC chairman Paiboon insisted that the transfer of the Na Thawi prosecutors was not a mistake because the order was backed by evidence, adding that the accused had 30 days to explain themselves.
He added that he had asked Pongniwat to order the OAG to conduct a preliminary inquiry.
The transfers announced last Friday were not all related to corruption, he said, adding that some were also related to work performance and orderliness.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut pointed out that the transfer order for the Na Thawi prosecutors made way for the further investigation of cases, particularly human trafficking cases, which had been slowed by delays. He said the prosecutors’ supervisors should investigate and complete the probe in 30 days.
“When people break the law, prosecutors should indict,” the prime minister said. “But if everything is delayed, we have to investigate why because such matter yield impacts including on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and human trafficking. If I don’t do anything about it, how can I answer questions?”