June 21, 2014 00:00 By Piyanut Tumnukasetchai
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has ordered the Justice Ministry to reinstate forensics expert Khunying Pornthip Rojanasunand as director of the Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS).
Chanchao Chaiyanukit, deputy permanent secretary of the Justice Ministry, said yesterday that it had received an order from the NCPO on Tuesday to swap Lt-Colonel Anek Yomchinda’s post as director of the CIFS with that of Pornthip’s, who is the incumbent inspector-general at the Justice Ministry.
It was decided that the transfer would help the national policy agenda of improving the forensic-science sector and addressing problems in southern border provinces.
The transfer would also serve as an internal circulation of personnel within the Justice Ministry.
The new arrangement is effective immediately.
In reaction to the order Pornthip said: “The fieldwork in southern border provinces was something that I had previously been responsible for.
“In the past, I’d like [people] to ask local officers [so that they knew] there were orders not to send the DNA of insurgents to the military and prohibition of any conduct that would be against the law. However, CIFS officials who were working there were transferred out, so there has been no progress in investigations,” she said.
Pornthip gained prominence because of her work on a number of high-profile cases including the murder of a medical student in 1998. She also investigated the murder of former Bangkok MP Hangthong Thammawattana.
Pornthip worked for the Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situation, which was set up to deal with red-shirt protests in 2010.
She was appointed as a caretaker CIFS director in 2005, when the institute was tasked with the job of looking into the insurgency in the South.
She was later given the post permanently in 2008, but was removed from the post five years later and made inspector-general in May last year under justice minister Pol General Pracha Promnog. Anek was then moved to replace her at CIFS.
Pracha at that time tried to blame Pornthip for procurement of fake GT-200 bomb scanners, but Pornthip claimed not to have been involved in the deal.
However, Anek testified to the National Anti-Corruption Commission that he had signed the order to buy the GT-200 devices as ordered by his supervisor Pornthip, who insisted they were real.
Pornthip had many rows with the police.
In 2005, police reopened the identification process of victims of the 2004 tsunami after questioning the credibility of the work done by Pornthip’s team, which had initially been assigned to the task by the Justice Ministry.
Pornthip also criticised police over their investigation into the murder of Akeyuth Anchanbutr, an outspoken critic of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, last year.
She spoke many times at rallies in support of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee this year.
Anek has been in the forensic-science sector since its inception after being transferred from Phramongkutklao Hospital.
He moved up to become deputy director of the CIFS and later deputy director of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre when Pol Colonel Tawee Sodsong was director.