Thailand: 4 policemen arrested for extorting and murdering a suspect
The events escalated after video in which the detainee is seen asphyxiating after the police placed plastic bags on his head was circulated in social media.
Four Thai police officers charged with the murder of a suspected drug trafficker who was under arrest were detained on Wednesday after a video of the incident disseminated on social media caused public outrage.
Three other policemen were wanted in connection with the August 5 incident at their police station in Nakhon Sawan province, north of Bangkok, said Colonel Kissana Phathanacharoen, a deputy spokesman for the national police. Among them is a colonel nicknamed "Joe Ferrari" because of his collection of luxury vehicles, the press said.
A team of 12 officers was wanted by the police following leaked footage that went viral on social media earlier in the past few days, appearing to show four plain-clothes police officers covering a suspect’s head with a plastic bag while beating him in order to reportedly extort 2 million baht ($61,000) from the suspect. The victim was pronounced dead afterward.
Allegations of police violence and corruption are not uncommon in Thailand, but the video showing the detainee suffocating after police officers placed plastic bags over his head in an alleged extortion attempt, and the delay in initiating the investigation, caused outrage.
The police have also been heavily criticized for the use of force to suppress anti-government protests in Bangkok. Although some protesters employ violent tactics, the police have been accused of reacting with excessive force and using dangerous methods to control crowds, including firing rubber bullets at close range.
“This case of torture and murder is scandalous. But it is not the first case and it is unlikely to be the last unless the police conduct serious interrogations and investigations and do not leave a corner unchecked,” said Sunai Phasuk, researcher for the human rights group Human Rights Watch.
SOURCE: Associated Press