There’s nothing new in tales of Thai police acting badly and while the perception by many is that it’s predominantly lower rank police merely attempting to subsidise their lowly pay-packet, the evidence is that the filth permeates through all ranks of the Royal Thai Police (RTP) force.
However, the impunity that many Thai police think they enjoy is becoming increasingly a thing of the past – largely driven by the abundance of hand-phone and surveillance cameras now in the community and the strength of social media.
In this poor-quality closed circuit television (CCTV) footage from Sor Sunthorn restaurant in Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat), about 260km (162 miles) northeast of Bangkok, a man later identified as Police Lieutenant-Colonel Prakarn Korpsiripat can be seen punching a restaurant cashier.
The August 31 assault occurred because the hapless cashier, Charan Apiwatwichit, dared to complain to the Thai cop’s superiors that he had been mooching meals at the restaurant and refusing to pay.
Local media reports say Lieutenant-Colonel Korpsiripat had run up more than Bt1,400 (US$38.68) in unpaid food bills, in a restaurant where a meal is likely to cost little more than Bt50 ($1.38) and in a country where cashiers are ultimately held responsible for ensuring that receipts balance with kitchen tickets.
According to restaurant owner Pongpat Bamrungkul the enraged Thai cop entered the restaurant and loudly berated Mr Apiwatwichit. “‘Do you know who I am? Why did you report me to my boss? I got reprimanded because of you’”, Mr Bamrungkul told local media the policeman demanded.
The policeman then punched Mr Apiwatwichit, breaking his nose.
Local media reports say Lieutenant-Colonel Korpsiripat was fired from the Royal Thai Police force and charged with assault after the restaurant owner and four witnesses filed a formal complaint the following day.
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