The Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court on Wednesday found eight defendants guilty of human trafficking, underage prostitution and other charges linked to the “owl tattoo” prostitution racket in Mae Hong Son and sentenced them to imprisonments ranging from eight to 320 years.
Three procurers received over 100 years behind bars – first defendant Piyawan Sukmak, 27, got a 167-year jail term, second defendant Piyathas Parpthiensuwan, 31, got a 176-year jail term and third defendant former cop Pol Senior Sgt-Major Yutthachai Thongchat, 43, got a 320-year jail term.
The three, however, would serve only 50 years behind bars each as the law limits maximum penalty in criminal cases to 50 years in prison.
The fourth defendant Mongkol Kiatpakdipong, 31, was given 19 years, the fifth defendant Pattamaporn In-kaew, 32, got 12 years, the sixth defendant Kanokwan Rattanapakdi, 23, got eight years, the seventh defendant Kwanhathai Reuk-Udom, 40, got 32 years and the eighth defendant Kalaya Wutthikhun, 41, got 36 years.
The eight convicts later sought release on bail pending their appeal to the upper court. During the trial, three of the suspects – Piyawan, Piyathas and Yutthachai – were denied bail and were detained at remand facilities, while the others got bail.
Yutthachai had worked at the Nam Piang Din Police Station until the scandal broke last year, following which he was sacked along with eight other cops in the province who were put under serious disciplinary investigation after being implicated as customers of underage prostitution services.
The case came to light because the 43-year-old mother of one of the teenage victims filed a police complaint. She remained persistent even when there was a lack of progress in the investigations for six months. She then exposed the prostitution racket to the media.
Many state officials were subsequently implicated for buying sex services from the racket’s girls, many of whom reportedly had owl identification tattoos on the chest.
Provincial Governor Suebsak Iamvijarn, who was transferred to an inactive post in Bangkok pending a probe result into the allegation, was later reinstated after he was cleared of any wrongdoing. According to police, one of five Nonthaburi politicians who allegedly bought sex from the girls had drunkenly claimed to be Suebsak.