Less than 24 hours before the five-member panel was due to start work, Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) chief Sanit Mahathavorn signed an order yesterday (Sept 24) appointing his deputy, Panurat Lakboon, to replace Col Kiattipong Nala, a deputy chief of the MPB’s Division 5, as chairman.
Maj Gen Panurat confirmed today (Sept 25) that the order had reached him yesterday night.
The leadership change delayed the start of the inquiry by 24 hours, from today until tomorrow (Sept 26). It will investigate Col Chairit Anurit, also a deputy chief of Division 5, and two other officers of lower rank who allegedly drove Yingluck to the border in Sa Kao.
The replacement of the chairman follows criticism the panel would be toothless if headed by an officer of the same rank as the most senior officer at the centre of the matter, a police colonel.
Maj Gen Panurat acknowledged the change was due to the rank issue.
The probe will merely focus on disciplinary issues, whether the three officers stepped beyond their duty by taking the former prime minister to the border.
Yingluck skipped bail and fled to the Cambodian border in Sa Kaeo before the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions was due to rule on Aug 25 in the negligence case stemming from her government’s corruption-plagued rice-pledging programme.
The Cambodian government has repeatedly denied she left through Cambodia.
The court on Aug 25 issued an arrest warrant and set this Wednesday (Sept 27) as the new date to hand down the ruling, with or without her appearance at the courthouse.
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