Update: Metro police commander Phukphong Phongpetra said Friday afternoon three police officers were fired after investigators found credible evidence to support the victim’s claim.
BANGKOK — Police on Friday said three police officers were expelled and placed under investigation for allegedly arresting and extorting a French man in downtown Bangkok.
The probe put the Thonglor Police Station’s notorious “drug test” policy back in the spotlight, after French businessman Jean Sebastien wrote on social media that the three cops reportedly extorted him 8,000 U.S. dollars (245,000 baht) in exchange for dropping drug charges against him.
Although Thonglor police chief Samphan Leungsajjakul dismissed the accusation earlier on Monday, he later reversed his stance and confirmed today that three officers have been moved to an inactive post.
“The case is being handled,” Col. Samphan said. “I believe investigators have found substantial evidence to suggest that the wrongdoing really took place.”
Metro police commander Phukphong Phongpetra later announced in the afternoon that the three policemen had been removed from the force while the probe is ongoing. Phukphong said investigators found credible evidence to support the victim’s claim.
The three policemen were identified as Maj. Phitsanupol Dechsri, Sub.Lt. Anant Saengsawang, and Sgt. Thanonchai Pakasamit.
Metro police’s Division 5 commander Samart Srisiriwibulchai said Sebastien told investigators that he was stopped for a drug search when he was walking down Soi Sukhumvit 43 on Oct. 28.
He said the cops conducted a strip search on Sebastrian, and even though they found nothing illicit under his possession, he was still taken to a hospital for a urine test.
Once the test results found him positive for marijuana use, Maj. Gen. Samart said Sebastien was allowed to contact his friend, who advised him to transfer USD8,000 to his girlfriend’s account in exchange for negotiation with the police to drop the charge.
The French businessman agreed with the deal and was later released from custody, but he said he could not contact his friend ever since the incident, Samart said.
He then contacted the French Embassy and filed a complaint at the national anti-graft commission, suspecting that his friend might have colluded with the police.
Police spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen on Thursday said disciplinary actions would be taken against the officers involved if they are found guilty.
Sebastien has also filed a legal complaint against his friend and his friend’s girlfriend for alleged extortion, the spokesman said. He added that Sebastien was eventually released without any charges because they found a doctor’s prescription of marijuana.
There are numerous accounts of foreigners being targeted on the streets for purported drug tests by officers from Thonglor Police Station in recent years. Some foreigners also reported being asked to pay bribes in exchange for their release.