Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has appointed Pol Gen Vichien Potposri, an adviser to the Royal Thai Police Office, as the acting police chief while Pol Gen Patcharawat is on leave from August 5-14. The appointment is based on Pol Gen Vichien’s seniority and commendable work record, with Prime Minister Vejjajiva expressing confidence that he will be able to help resolve the Sondhi shooting case.
The case involves the attempted murder of People’s Alliance for Democracy leader Sondhi Limthongkul in Bangkok on April 17. Prime Minister Vejjajiva has approved Pol Gen Patcharawat’s request for leave during which he will travel abroad but briefly return for Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday celebrations on August 11-12. Pol Gen Patcharawat, who has been under pressure to step down due to allegations of impeding the Sondhi ambush investigation, is scheduled to retire at the end of September.
The prime minister also announced that the police reshuffle list under the new organizational structure of the Royal Thai Police Office will be put on hold, with the list to be finalized by the next police chief. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban has ordered the Police Commission to hold a meeting soon to review the list, which involves high-level police officers. Suthep denied reports of dissatisfaction among officers over the reshuffle and stated that no politicians had interfered in the list’s creation.
In a related development, the Criminal Court rejected a lawsuit filed against police investigators on behalf of a fugitive suspect in the attempted murder of Sondhi. The court ruled that the investigators were empowered by the Criminal Procedures Code to gather evidence in the case to identify the perpetrators, and arrest warrants for two suspects, including the plaintiff, were properly approved by the court.