District head's decision biased, unfair: park chief
The chief of Kaeng Krachan national park in Phetchaburi lodged a complaint with provincial authorities yesterday, accusing the district chief of being biased, unfair and unprofessional in his decision to not indict a senior policeman for illegal poaching.
In his statement, Chaiwat Limlikhit-aksorn said Suthiphong Tanbunyasiridej, who indicted the other three suspects caught on camera grilling and eating a hunted animal, had not yet investigated the case thoroughly, collected any evidence or even contacted any park officials for additional information.
There were eight men involved in the matter, including the four not captured in the infamous photograph. However, Suthiphong indicted only seven suspects and let the eighth member of the hunting party, Pol Lt-Colonel Theerayuth Katemangmee, off, citing "lack of clarity" of the officer's role.
Theerayuth, a senior officer at Pran Buri police station in neighbouring Prachuap Khiri Khan province, now faces a severe disciplinary probe at the order of deputy national police chief Pol General Pansiri Praphawat. The police chief has also ordered another investigation into Theerayuth not getting indicted, as well as a parallel probe into the poaching and Suthiphong's handling of the case.
Meanwhile Chaiwat said Suthiphong possibly had a bias against Kaeng Krachan park officials because he had made several previous decisions that were in favour of poachers and encroachers.
"In cases where village heads or other officials were arrested for illegal logging or for not taking action against illegal loggers, Suthiphong's decisions were still made in favour of them," Chaiwat said in his complaint.
Upon presenting his statement to Phetchaburi governor Monthian Thongnit, Chaiwat said Suthiphong's claim that the undated photograph was not sufficient evidence against Theerawat was not acceptable.
"If the photo file [given to Suthiphong by forestry officials] is opened on a computer, the date will appear," he said.
The forest chief added that other photographic evidence also submitted to Suthiphong showed the officer grilling and eating a hunted animal with three other suspects was indeed taken in the Kaeng Krachan national park.