BANGKOK – Police say they are speeding up their effort to prosecute relatives of Srirasmi Suwadee, the wife of Thai Crown Prince who resigned from her royal status last week.
Pol.Gen. Aek Angsananond said yesterday that police are nearly finished preparing case files for public prosecutors on the members of the alleged criminal ring associated with Srirasmi's family. According to police, the criminal network was run by Srirasmi's uncle, former chief of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) Pol.Lt.Gen. Pongpat Chayapan, and his deputies.
Pol.Lt.Gen. Pongpat and his accomplices have been charged with numerous offences, including lese majeste (insult of monarchy), corruption, abuse of political office, money laundering, and running illegal gambling businesses.
"We are checking the facts of the cases carefully," said Pol.Gen. Aek. "In our inspection so far, we have not encountered any problem in the cases. We expect to forward them to the public prosecutors soon."
Srirasmi's brother and sister are also accused of belonging to Pongpat's alleged criminal network. Her brother, Col. Nattapol Suwadee, is under arrest on charges of armed racketeering and illegal detention, and her sister, Sudathip Muangnuan, is being held in a Bangkok prison for citing her connections to the monarchy in order to win exclusive rights to sell certain food products to the Crown Prince's palace at an overpriced rate.
In total, 26 arrest warrants have been issued on individuals suspected of belonging to the criminal ring; 11 of these individuals face lese majeste charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
In response to the ongoing scandal, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn stripped Srirasmi's entire family of the royally-bestowed surname of Akharaphongpreecha, forcing them to revert back to their "commoner" surname, Suwadee, on 30 November.
Less than two weeks later, on 12 December, the Royal Household Bureau announced that Srirasmi has resigned from her status as a member of the Thai Royal Family. She moved out of the Crown Prince's palace in Bangkok to live with her parents in Ratchaburi province and has not been seen since 13 December, when she applied for a new national ID card as a commoner.
It is unclear whether Srirasmi and the Crown Prince are formally divorced. The couple married in 2001 and have one 9-year-old son.
Pol.Lt.Gen. Sriwara Rangsiphramanakul, commander of Bangkok Metropolitan Police, said he expected that police will finalise their investigation of suspects charged with lese majeste "by the end of this week."
"We have excellent paper evidence, material evidence, and witness' testimony [against the suspects]," Pol.Lt.Gen. Sriwara said yesterday.
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