No Threats Against Paween Found, Investigation Team Says

A still image of Maj. Gen. Paween Pongsirin from an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp. aired on December 10. Image: ABC

BANGKOK — The Deputy police chief on Friday dismissed the claims of Maj. Gen. Paween Pongsirin, the former head investigator of human trafficking cases, re-asserting that no threats against any officers have been found.

Responding to the claim from former the officer who is now seeking asylum in Australia, the head of the investigation team today said no police officers handling the case had informed him that they had been threatened. Also the chance that Maj. Gen.Paween was threatened was deemed “not possible” as he was involved in the investigation for less than a month.

“I still cannot see how the threat can affect the case,” said Deputy police chief Sriwarah Rangsipramkul. “Maj. Gen. Paween was involved for less than 20 days,  he didn’t even interrogate one single witness or sign any documents. All he did was sign the paper requesting the arrest warrant for Army adviser Lt Gen. Manas Kongpan.”

According to a police diagram, Maj. Gen. Paween was appointed to join the investigation of the Rohingya trafficking case on May 28. The case was later submitted to the prosecutor and the prosecution order was issued on June 22 which convinced the deputy police chief that any threat that was received after that day would not affect the case.

Quitting his job on Nov.5 after suddenly being transferred to work in the three southern border provinces, the hot spot of decade-long separatist wars, Paween disappeared amid rumors that he had fled the country.

The officers first appeared to the public again on Australian TV channel ABC on Dec.10, saying he left Thailand in fear of his life. The former head investigator said his investigation was constantly obstructed by high-ranking officials in Thailand’s government.

Sriwarah said police have tried to contact Paween by phone and by the LINE messaging application to request more information, but he cannot be reached.He should come back to give information, otherwise the Royal Thai Police would consider his recent interview as “defaming the nation.”

“I am currently more concerned that the US State Department has downgraded Thailand to Tier 3 [in regards to] human trafficking, than the Maj. Gen. Paween story,” Sriwarah said.

 
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