3 Thai police officers suspended for soliciting bribes in e-cigarette case

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Three police officers from Hat Yai district in Songkla, a province in southern Thailand, are being investigated for solicit bribes of three men caught crossing Thailand with electronic cigarettes. The three victims revealed that the police demanded 10,000 baht from each of them to waive the penalties.

Pachara Sirithorn revealed on Facebook that he and two of his friends were arrested by police officers for having three e-cigarettes and two bottles of vaping liquid at 10:40 p.m. on September 3 at a police checkpoint outside a gas station. in Klong Hae Subdistrict, Hat Yai District, Songkla Province.

They were charged with using and possessing e-cigarettes. Officers seized their e-cigarettes, vape juice and ID cards and gave them a urine drug test, which came back negative.

Officers informed Pachara and his friends that they could be fined 50,000 baht for possessing e-cigarettes. The three men have admitted wrongdoing and agreed to submit to legal proceedings and prosecution.

Pachara revealed that one of the officers said he didn’t need to go to court if they agreed to pay 10,000 baht each. After refusing, officers reduced the fee to 5,000 baht each to waive the sentence. Again, all three men said no.

After an hour of discussion, the officers said they would forget everything if they paid a total of 10,000 baht in cash between them.

Pachara agreed and asked for a receipt, but the police refused to provide it and threatened to jail them if they continued to play games.

The men paid and were released without a receipt.

Pachara decided to spread the story on social media to highlight police corruption and warn others.

In the comments under the post, many netizens shared that they faced similar situations. A man said he was arrested three times and paid officers nearly 20,000 baht.

Hat Yai Police Station Director Akkarawut Thaneerat told Thai media today that the officers mentioned in the message from Hat Yai Police Station have been temporarily suspended pending investigation.

E-cigarettes, e-baraku and juice refills have been banned in Thailand since 2014. There are various penalties if you are caught vaping or in possession of an e-cigarette. Fines of 30,000 baht were imposed and threats of ten years in prison.

Persons can also be prosecuted under Article 246 of the Customs Act: anyone who conceals, sells, removes, buys or receives goods which have not been cleared through customs will be punished with a imprisonment for up to five years or a fine four times the price of the goods, or both.

THE SOURCE: Channel 3 | Thairath

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