BANGKOK — Deputy police commissioner Wirachai Songmetta was moved to a civilian post and placed under an investigation on Friday under suspicions that he leaked a conversation with his supervisor to the media earlier this month.
Gen. Wirachai was transferred to the Prime Minister’s Office while an inquiry is ongoing, according to an order signed by police commissioner Chakthip Chaijinda. The order came weeks after a phone call between Wirachai and Chakthip discussing a shooting that targeted a controversial former immigration police was released to the media.
When asked by reporters at a news conference whether the phone call was the reason for the order, Gen. Chakthip gave a brief but emphatic reply, “Yes.”
The order cited unspecified “behaviors and actions that negatively affected the public’s confidence in the performance of duty and upholding of justice, and the Royal Thai Police’s image” behind the punishment.
Wirachai has yet to speak to the media about the case.
In the phone conversation obtained by the media in early January, Chakthip can be heard chiding Wirachai for speaking to reporters about a Jan. 7 drive-by shooting that targeted former immigration chief Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn’s car.
He also told Wirachai to avoid directing media attention to the case.
“Just do anything to gain trust from your commanders, don’t make them feel suspicious,” Chakthip says in the clip. “Do you understand? Do whatever you want. That’s all. I want to warn you because many deputies are concerned.”
Police have not identified any perpetrators behind the shooting, which did not injure anyone. Surachate told the media he suspected the incident was related to his disagreement with the police’s purchase of biometric devices at the airports allegedly rife with financial irregularities.