Seripisut Temiyavet

Seripisut Temiyavet

Police General Seripisut Temiyavet (originally Seri Temiyavet, Thai: เสรีพิศุทธ์ เตมียาเวส, originally เสรี เตมียเวส; born 3 September 1948) is a Thai police officer who gained a reputation from targeting mafia leaders like "Kamnan Poh" Somchai Khunpleun and "Por Pratunam" Phaijit Thammarojphinij. He was appointed Police Commissioner of Thailand by a military junta, replacing Kowit Wattana, the Police Commissioner under deposed Premier Thaksin Shinawatra. The junta also appointed him Director of Airports of Thailand, along with Chairman General Saprang Kalayanamitr. He chairs the Friends of Seri Foundation, which was engaged in controversial loans to junta-appointed Constitution Drafting Committee and National Legislative Assembly member Thanaboon Jiranuwat. He was He is married to Phatsaweesiri Thepchatri Temiyavet (Thai: พัสวีศิริ เทพชาตรี เตมียาเวส) and has 3 children.

Education and early career

Seri graduated from the 8th Class of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School and went on to graduate from the 24th Class of the Thai Police Cadet Academy. He took part in anti-communist operations in the Northeast, where he became close friends with Manoon Roopkachorn. For this association, he was purged from the police force after the NPKC Coup of 23 February 1992. He was later rehabilitated into the police force.

As Assistant Director of the 2nd Region Police, he was in charge of the 1994 arrest of "Kamnan Poh" Somchai Khunpleum in the Khao Mai Kaew land corruption case. In 2003, a court found the influential mafia leader guilty and sentenced him to jail.

Seri ascended to the rank of Inspector-General. Under the government of Thaksin Shinawatra, he was assigned to several high-profile corruption cases, including the longan subsidy scandal, the Bobae mafia case, and the Government Public Warehouse rice screening case. Seripisut came into conflict with Army officer Maj General Khattiya Sawasdipol of the Internal Security Operations Command while investigating the "Por Pratunam" gambling den of Phaijit Thammarojphinij. Seripisut filed a libel lawsuit against Khattiya, although Khattiya was acquitted in November 2006. After Seripisut was promoted to Police Commissioner General, Khattiya filed a Bt600million defamation suit against him.

Police Commissioner General

In 5 February 2007, Seripisut was appointed Police Commissioner General by the military junta that had overthrown the government of Thaksin Shinawatra in 19 September 2006. He replaced Kowit Wattana, who had served as Police Commissioner General under the Thaksin government. There was great speculation about the motivation behind the replacement, as Kowit had earlier arrested several military personnel for alleged involvement in the 2006 Bangkok New Year's Eve bombings.

Purging of the police force

In his first staff reshuffle, Seripisut transferred Metropolitan Police Commissioner Viroj Chantarangsi to the provinces in the Lower North. Those close to former Commissioner Kowit Wattana and deposed Premier Thaksin Shinawatra were transferred to inactive posts. At the same time, he promoted police officers with close connections to him to powerful posts. Viroj, a classmate of Kowit, was replaced by Adisorn Nonsi, a former close aid of Seripisut. Pol Lt-Gen Thawornsak Thepchatree, an elder brother of Seripisuth's wife, was appointed adviser to the National Police Office. Pol Lt-Gen Jettanakorn Napeetaphat, who is married to the sister of Prime Minister Surayud's wife, replacing Pol Lt-Gen Adul Saengsingkaew in dealing with the South Thailand insurgency as Region 9 Commissioner.

Criticism of Prem Tinsulanonda

Seripisut came under fire for his role in a petition to remove General Prem Tinsulanonda from his leadership of King Bhumibol Adulyadej's Privy Council. Police Special Branch Commander Lt-General Theeradech Rodpho-thong refused to file charges of lèse majesté against activitists who launched a petition, claiming that the law only applied to members of the royal family. Two days later, he was demoted by Seripisut.

Relationship with the junta

Seripisut often sided with the Council for National Security (CNS) rather than his own staff. After numerous bombs were exploded simultaneously on 27 May 2007 in Haad Yai, the police Special Branch claimed it was confident that the explosions were linked to the southern insurgency. The Special branch cited intelligence reports from two days before the blasts warning that two youngsters from the southern provinces were sneaking explosive devices into Songkhla. However, the CNS spokesperson claimed that there was reason to believe that the bombs were set off by people who were losing political power, a common euphemism for the deposed government of Thaksin Shinawatra. Seripisut agreed with the CNS.

Junta critic Maj Gen Kattiaya Sawasdiphol was convicted for defaming and sentenced to jail for four months in jail after he criticised Seripisut his crackdown on gambling dens.

Friends of Seri Foundation controversy

Seripisut is the Chairman of the Friends of Seri Foundation and involved in controversial loans made to businessman and junta-associate Thanaboon Jiranuwat. Thanaboon's construction business was losing money, and he received an 18% interest-rate loan from Seripisut's foundation in September 1996. Thanaboon wrote 14 cheques worth 300,000 baht each to the foundation as repayment. Thanaboon's banks returned the cheques unpaid, and Seripisut sued Thanaboon. Thanaboon was acquitted by the Criminal Court but convicted on appeal. He later appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing the loan agreement violated the foundation's objectives and regulations, and that the interest rate was above Bank of Thailand limits. On 8 February 2007, the Supreme Court upheld Thanaboon's conviction in which Thanaboon was sentenced to 40 months in jail.

Kuehne and Nagel Tax Evasion controversy

On 8 March 2007, Akbar Khan claimed to have submitted a request to investigate alleged tax evasion by Kühne + Nagel to Seripisut in his office. Two weeks later, Seripisut's secretaries claimed that the request was lost. The request was later resubmitted to Seripisut's deputies. Khan claimed that the deputies noted that the case was not worthy of investigation. When questioned about the matter by Khan in public, Seripisut said he could not recall meeting with him, but promised to follow up on the matter. It is noteworthy that Akbar Khan has caused considerable uproar in the media world by leading a charge of lese majeste against one of BBC's finest reporters Jonathan Head, and against a Thai Rak Thai confidante who was government spokesperson. Although Thailand's revered king had stated on 4 December 2005 that he wanted to be criticized and that people should not be afraid to criticize him, Khan and a Thai police Lt. Col. jointly filed lese majeste charges, based on flimsy and convoluted evidence, against Jonathan Head out of a claim of not being able to stand Head's speech.

See also

References

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