Senior Justice Ministry official to be questioned in Jomsap scandal
THE deputy permanent secretary of the Justice Ministry, Pol Colonel Dusadee Arayawuth, is among the officials expected to be questioned for allegedly aiding former teacher Jomsap Saenmuangkhot’s failed attempt to win a retrial over her hit-and-run conviction.
Provincial Police Region 4 deputy chief Pol Maj-General Tanasak Rittidejpaiboon confirmed yesterday that 14 officials would be invited to give information as “duty-performing officials” – not suspects – at the Provincial Police Region 4 Office in Khon Kaen tomorrow.
Earlier yesterday, after a 30-minute videoconference with Nakhon Phanom police officers over progress in the case, national police deputy chief Pol General Weerachai Songmetta told reporters in Bangkok that investigators expected to question Justice Ministry officials over the next day or two.
Dusadee, who publicly supported Jomsap’s petition for a retrial, was expected to be among the witnesses.
Weerachai said he did not feel awkward about the fact that he and Dusadee were both members of the 37th police cadet class, as they were both just doing their jobs.
Weerachai said police would also question Natchapol “Mark Pitbull” Supattana, a social network celebrity who raised funds to help Jomsap, although he added that he personally believed that Natchapol had just meant well.
Weerachai said that after the Supreme Court dismissed Jomsap’s petition for a retrial, neither the Justice Ministry nor any other agency had apologised to the Royal Thai Police or case investigators, even though they had faced strong criticism.
A police source said investigators would ask for information from the prison visitor log to determine who had visited Jomsap and for any existing recordings of their conversations.
Police also intended to discover who had withdrawn Bt170,000 from the bank that Sap Wapi presented to the family of elderly cyclist, Lua Phorbumrung, who was killed in the 2005 crash. Sap has confessed to falsely claiming responsibility for the crash in return for payment.
Later, Tanasak said police had already interviewed 29 of 34 witnesses and more arrest warrants could be issued soon. Teacher Suriya Nuancharoen, whose release on bail was opposed by police who applied for a court detention order yesterday, had made useful admissions, police said.
Later yesterday, the Nakhon Phanom Court denied a Bt300,000 bail application for Suriya on the grounds that he was a flight risk and might tamper with witnesses or evidence.
“Suriya claims he believed Sap was the real culprit behind the crash, so he brought him forward to the police. He claims he had agreed to cover expenses for Sap. Suriya also admitted that the Bt170,000 came from him,” Tanasak said.
Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang said assisting Jomsap was not the DSI’s direct responsibility and no witness protection had been provided by the DSI. He clarified that the number of DSI officers aiding “justice-providing works” at Dusadee’s office was nine – not six.
The DSI officers will be summoned next week to provide information to a Justice Ministry committee to improve the ministry’s handling of criminal retrial petitions, said Office of Justice Affairs chief and the committee head Wanlop Nakbua. The panel is due to complete its probe in 30 days.
Wanlop said criminal retrial petitions were complicated as similar retrials had never taken place. The ministry’s handling of them would be centralised and dealt with by a committee, not a special task team as was the case before.
A source at the Justice Ministry said the team that helped Jomsap had prepared evidence to show they did the job out of confidence in forensic evidence that suggested Jomsap’s golden bronze pick-up truck had never been in a crash.
The paint reportedly did not match that of green paint found on the victim’s bicycle, authorities said, although there were suspicions about the green truck that Sap claimed to use in the crash.
Although Dusadee ruled out Suriya and Sap from the witness list due to their failing a polygraph, the team continued to assist Jomsap as it was her only chance for retrial, the source said.