Thai police give themselves reward for bomb suspect arrest
Thailand’s police chief announced Monday he was handing his own officers a reward of some $84,000 for apprehending a man who has been charged in connection with this month’s deadly Bangkok bomb blast.
Police General Somyot Poompanmoung held up three million baht in cash in tightly stacked notes which he said would be distributed amongst his men following the arrest of a foreign man on Saturday.
“One million baht comes from me, the other two million baht came from my businessmen friends who do not want to be named,” he told reporters at a press conference at police headquarters.
Somyot said the reward money was going to the police because the public had not helped in tracking down the man.
“It is clear that it was the authorities alone,” he said, adding they had not received tip-offs from the public.
Police and private citizens had previously offered rewards for information that led to the capture of anyone involved in the deadly blast. It is unclear if there is a reward still available for the public.
The Saturday arrest was the first major breakthrough in an investigation that appeared to have stalled following the August 17 blast, Thailand’s worst single mass-casualty attack.
Police came under pressure in the days after the blast for failing to a make a swift arrest despite having CCTV footage of the alleged bomber.
They have also been criticised for giving contradictory and confusing statements on the progress of the probe.
The unnamed foreign man, who remains in military custody, was allegedly found with bomb-making equipment and multiple fake passports at a flat on the outskirts of Bangkok on Saturday.
On Monday police announced they were also looking for two more suspects, a Thai woman and an unidentified man, after bomb paraphernalia was allegedly found at a second nearby flat.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast at the popular Erawan shrine in central Bangkok which left 20 people dead.
Thais routinely complain that their police are better at extracting street-side bribes than detective work.
Senior police officers are often exceedingly wealthy and it is not unknown for them to have extensive business ties on top of their policing duties.
Before his appointment as police chief after last year’s coup Somyot declared his assets at $11.5 million including income from advising companies as well as property holdings and investments.
A loyalist of junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha, he had vowed to transfer, arrest or prosecute all graft-tainted officers.
True to his word, he has nailed several senior policemen, including the head of Thailand’s elite Central Investigation Bureau — jailed with his deputy in January for defaming the royal family while running a criminal empire from inside the police.