BANGKOK — Police commanders on Wednesday declined to explain why they failed to arrest a pro-junta politician before insurrection charges against him expired.
Charges filed against Suporn “Rambo Isaan” Atthawong, 55, for crashing an international summit in 2009 expired earlier this month because he did not report to the court in time. Prosecutors said police failed to arrest the Redshirt-turned-junta-supporter and bring him to court – an allegation police officials would not address when reached for comments today.
“I don’t know the details,” Chonburi police commander Nanthachart Supamongkol, whose force was tasked with apprehending Suporn, said in an interview.
News emerged earlier this week that the charges against Suporn had expired – making him the lone defendant in the case to escape prosecution. Redshirt leaders who were charged alongside Suporn will continue to face trial.
“I don’t envy Mr. Suporn for getting off the hook,” Redshirt leader and co-defendant Nattawut Saikua wrote online. “But I feel pathetic to see such a legal and judicial miracle happen.”
The sedition charges date back to April 2009 when Suporn was still a leader of the Redshirt movement. In an attempt to embarrass the pro-military government in power at the time, Suporn and fellow Redshirt protesters invaded an international summit in Pattaya on April 11, forcing the foreign delegation to flee.
Suporn switched allegiance to the pro-junta faction after the military toppled the Redshirt-backed government in a 2014 coup.
Public prosecutors on Monday said Suporn was supposed to appear in court before his charges expired on April 11, but the suspect could not be located. The prosecutors alerted provincial police to track down and apprehend Suporn, yet no arrest was made.
“I’d like to inform all of you that the prosecutors did not neglect our duties,” Office of Attorney General spokesman Prayut Phetkhun said.
“The letters we filed to every relevant department even had bolded texts,” the spokesman stressed.
In a phone interview today, Chonburi police commander Nanthachart, whose jurisdiction covers Pattaya, would not discuss his force’s failure to arrest Suporn.
Nanthachart said he was busy attending an event to honor King Rama X, and referred a reporter to deputy police commander Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, who oversees national security issues. Srivara could not be reached for comment as of publication time.
National police spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen also said he had no information concerning Suporn.
When asked whether the central police command will convene an inquiry into why officers in Chonburi failed to carry out the arrest warrant, Krissana again referred the question to Srivara.
Speaking to Post Today yesterday, Suporn would not discuss the circumstances of his legal getaway, saying he does not want to “interfere with the bureaucracy.”
“Whatever the public prosecutors said, let it be that way,” Suporn was quoted as saying.
He also lashed out at his former Redshirt allies for accusing the authorities of favoritism. Suporn insisted he received no special assistance from the junta.
“Our country can’t be peaceful because of people like [Nattawut],” Suporn said. “They keep stirring things up. I don’t want to dig up the past because this was legal procedure … everyone must be under the law.”
Known popularly as Rambo Isaan for his aggressive language that has sometimes bordered on advocating for civil war, Suporn mostly campaigned with the Redshirts in the northeastern region, or Isaan, prior to the military coup in 2014.
After the putsch, Suporn publicly swore not to enter politics again, only to withdraw the oath in 2018 when he joined the pro-junta Phalang Pracharath Party. He ran for a seat in Korat in the March election, but was roundly defeated by a rival from the Bhumjaithai Party.