SAMUT PRAKAN — Police on Wednesday said they will charge a pro-democracy campaigner for filing a false report that he was the victim of an abduction by security officers.
Activist groups said Mongkol “Yale” Santimethakul, a member of the protesters’ security network “Guard Coalition for the People,” was manhandled from his home on Saturday night by individuals in an unmarked van who claimed to be security officers. But police now say there’s evidence that the incident didn’t take place at all.
“We’ve gathered almost all the evidence and it becomes obvious that the incident didn’t happen,” Samut Prakan provincial police chief Chumpol Phumphuang said.
“There weren’t any vans as described by Mongkol. Eyewitness testimonies, CCTV footage, and transaction records all suggest that he was still wandering.”
The alleged kidnapping was said to have taken place at around 11pm after Mongkol participated in a protest against the royal defamation law at the Victory Monument on Saturday afternoon.
Activists said he was released the next afternoon at BTS Kheha station outside Bangkok after they had negotiated for Mongkol’s release with the alleged captor over LINE messenger app.
Mongkol told reporters after his release that he had been blindfolded and held inside a van for the whole night, until he was shoved out of the vehicle on the following day.
But in CCTV footage released by the police, a man identified as Mongkol was seen walking down the hallway at a residence building near the BTS station alone at 2am on Sunday.
The man could be seen walking out of the same building in the afternoon at 12pm, shortly before Mongkol was found by fellow activists.
“We’re trying to summon Mongkol to give more information, but he has gone incommunicado,” Maj. Gen. Chumpol said. “He’s not at home and his phone is switched off.”
Leader of the Guard Coalition for the People, Kitpiwat Sriboonruang, could not be reached for comments as of the publication time.
Piyarat Chongthep, the leader of another protesters’ guard group “We Volunteer,” said he does not know details about the incident.
“We should wait for the Guard Coalition for the People group to clarify this matter,” Piyarat said.
Activists had previously identified the captor as an agent of the Internal Security Operations Command – an intelligence agency tasked with counter-insurgency. The agency has denied its involvement in the alleged kidnapping.
The army also said on Wednesday that Mongkol is enlisted as a soldier in its force, but he deserted his post in December 2019. An army representative filed a complaint against him a month later, according to the army. If found guilty, he faces up to three years in jail.
Some ex-servicemen have volunteered as security details for the pro-democracy protests, which took place in the latter part of 2020.