PM appoints acting police chief-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has signed an order appointing Pol Gen Vichien Potposri, an adviser to the Royal Thai Police Office, acting police chief while Pol Gen Patcharawat is away on leave from Aug 5-14, effective from Wednesday. “I have appointed Pol Gen Vichien the acting police chief. The appointment is based on his seniority and appreciable work record. I believe he will be able to help resolve the Sondhi shooting case,” the prime minister said on Tuesday afternoon. He was referring to the attempted murder of People’s Alliance for Democracy leader Sondhi Limthongkul in the heart of Bangkok on April 17. Mr Abhisit said he had approved Pol Gen Patcharawat’s request for leave from Aug 5-14. He would travel abroad but would return briefly to attend Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday celebrations on Aug 11-12. Under pressure to remove Pol Gen Patcharawat, who was said to have impeded the Sondhi ambush investigation, Mr Abhisit said last Friday the police chief had offered to take leave to go abroad. He believed this would enable investigators to conclude the case during his absence.
The prime minister also said a police reshuffle list under the new organisational structure of the Royal Thai Police Office would be put on hold. He would rather leave the list to be fnialised by the next police chief. Pol Gen Patcharawat is due to retire at the end of September. Earlier on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said he had ordered the Police Commission to a meeting soon to review the list, which involves high-level police officers. Mr Suthep denied a report that the reshuffle would be reviewed because some officers were not satisfied that they were excluded, saying it was only a rumour. He insisted that no politicians had interfered in the making fo the list. The Criminal Court on Tuesday rejected a lawsuit filed against police investigators on behalf of a fugitive suspect in the attempted murder of Mr Sondhi . A lawyer filed the case on Monday on behalf of Sgt-Maj Panya Srihera, until recently a member of the Special Warfare Command in Lop Buri. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
The suit named deputy police chief Gen Thanee Somboonsap, who heads the investigation, and Pol Col Vicharnvat Borirakkul of the Metropolitan Police Bureau. Sgt-Maj Panya accused the two officers of malfeasance and abuse of authority in their investigation into the April 17 attack on Mr Sondhi, leading to him facing criminal charges and having been dismissed from military service. The court dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that Pol Gen Thanee and Pol Col Vicharnvat, as investigators, were empowered by Articles 2 and 131 of the Criminal Procedures Code to gather evidence in the case in order to identify the perpetrators of the attack. Arrest warrants for two suspects, including Sgt-Maj Panya, were properly approved by the court. The two investigating officers performed their duty as empowered by the law.Sgt-Maj Panya and the other suspect, Pol Cpl Worawut Mungsanti, until recently of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, are both on the run.