By SURIYA PATATHAYO,
Provincial Police Region 7 headquarters will handle the new probe, taking over the case from local police in Kanchanaburi amid suggestions that the province’s top police chief, Pol Maj-General Sutti Puangpikul, might have taken sides with a teacher who is involved in the dispute.
“Headquarters has set up a fact-finding committee to determine whether there are grounds to believe the allegation against Sutti,” deputy police spokesman Pol Colonel Krisana Pattanacharoen said yesterday.
He added that officials at headquarters would also consider whether to transfer the accused officer out of the area pending the investigation.
Sutti has been in trouble after being seen as openly supportive of teacher Preecha Kraikruan’s claim on the winning lottery tickets, despite the fact that retired policeman Charoon Wimul collected the prize with the tickets early last month.
Charoon claims that he legitimately bought the winning tickets himself, while Preecha says he bought the lottery tickets from a vendor he was familiar with, and she has backed up his claim. According to Preecha, he lost the tickets after purchasing them and he suspects that Charoon found them.
Believing that the local police had taken sides with Preecha, Charoon submitted a petition for help to Chakthip on Tuesday.
Krisana said Provincial Police Region 7 deputy chief Pol Maj-General Krissana Sapdej has been assigned to head the new inquiry to determine the real winner.
“The national police chief has emphasised that the probe must be based on evidence to ensure justice for all sides,” Krisana said.
A source said police from the Crime Suppression Division, the Central Investigation Bureau and the Technology Crime Suppression Division had already been to Kanchanaburi and covertly gathered evidence to facilitate the investigation.
Krisana added that police would try to conclude the inquiry quickly because the case affected public confidence as lottery buyers might feel there was a risk of losing their winnings even if they buy winning tickets.
This year, there have been several complaints from people who claimed their winning lottery tickets had been stolen. Krisana said forensic means, such as DNA tests, could be used to investigate who really owned winning tickets.
“But to play it safe, lottery buyers should write their names on the back of tickets they have bought and take a picture with them as evidence too,” he said.