All 6 officers accused of shaking down actress insist they are innocent
The six police officers accused of taking a bribe from a Taiwanese actress and her friends while they were visiting Bangkok early last month claimed they are innocent before being jailed on Thursday.
All six say they are innocent of the charges, the commander of the Metropolitan Police Bureau’s Investigation Division, Maj-General Teeradej Thumsutee, said.
The officers were seen being taken to the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases in Bangkok’s Taling Chan district.
Each one was accompanied by two officers from the Metropolitan Police Bureau.
While in their vehicle, the six officers were asked by reporters if they were guilty and whether they had a strong case against their accusers.
The stone-faced officers simply looked downward.
They face life in prison after being charged with dereliction of duty and taking bribes.
The lawyer for one of the accused, who declined to be identified, said the officer was distressed by the criminal charges.
The police requested that the court not only jail the accused but also opposed any bail applications because the offences carry severe penalties and the officers could interfere with evidence and witnesses if released, Teeradej said.
Teeradej said that despite the officers’ claims of innocence, investigators had compelling evidence to prove they accepted bribes.
The bribe-taking charges carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a fine of up to 400,000 baht.
Initially, the six policemen were charged with dereliction of duty for failing to take legal action against a group of tourists from Taiwan and Singapore who were found to be carrying vaping devices, which are illegal in Thailand.
The policemen intercepted Taiwanese actress Charlene An’s group at a checkpoint on Ratchadaphisek Road in the early hours of January 5.
The actress subsequently sparked an international uproar with social-media posts accusing Thai police of planting a vaping device on her and demanding 27,000 baht in exchange for her freedom.
Her allegations caught the attention of netizens in Taiwan and Thailand, prompting the Metropolitan Police Bureau to issue an order on January 26 to set up a fact-finding committee.
The bribery charges were filed after a Singaporean man in An’s group told reporters on Wednesday that he paid 27,000 baht to the officers to let the group go free.