DSI to file case over useless bomb detectors

national July 20, 2012 00:00

By THE NATION

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The Department of Special Investigation will seek legal redress against those responsible for the procurement of imported bomb detectors proven to be useless.



However, Thai security authorities still endorsed the field equipment as "life-saving" devices.

Tarit Pengdith, director general of the DSI, said yesterday that the DSI would initiate legal action although none of the 13 state agencies that bought the GT200 and Alfa 6 bomb detectors have filed any complaints against the manufacturers or distributors of the devices.

The DSI would give the agencies a little more time before it would submit the report on its probe to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

Those agencies have told the DSI that their internal investigations had found no irregularities or fraud involving the purchase of the devices.

The 13 agencies include the Narcotics Control Board, Central Institute of Forensic Science, Customs Department, Armed Forces Security Centre and certain provincial organisations, said Lt-Colonel Pong-in Intarakhao, head of the DSI’s security division.

Tests by the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre and British authorities found that the devices did not work as claimed by the producers, he said.

The GT200 is touted by its UK-based manufacturer Global Technical as able to detect from a distance various substances, including explosives and drugs.

The device came under scrutiny after the virtually identical ADE 651 "substance detector" became the centre of a fraud investigation in the United Kingdom. The UK government banned the export of such devices to Iraq and Afghanistan and warned foreign governments that the GT200 and ADE 651 were "wholly ineffective" at identifying bombs and explosives.

British businessman Jim McCormick was recently charged with fraud by police in the UK for producing and supplying ADE 651 devices although he was aware they were ineffectively designed or adapted to detect bombs. The ADE 651 is virtually identical to the GT200.

Defence Minister Sukampol Suwannathat vouched for the GT200, saying he was convinced the instrument could sense explosives.

"Don’t say that it doesn’t work. It actually works. It could be used to find bombs many times. Just one success in detecting bombs and it’s worth the price. I can confirm that the GT200 is effective," he said.

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