POLICE CHIEF : Patcharawat asks for leave of absence as a way out

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The embattled national police chief submitted his request for leave of absence yesterday when it became clear that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva would not approve his resignation any time soon.

Police General Patcharawat Wongsuwan also filed a lawsuit with the Criminal Court against the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and its eight majority members who voted to indict him for criminal and disciplinary offences in relation to the police crackdown on anti-government yellow-shirt protesters last October 7.

Abhisit said yesterday Patcharawat’s resignation would become effective only when approved by the police chief’s superintendent, which refers to the prime minister. He also noted that police regulations required officers to notify their resignation at least 30 days beforehand, except in special cases.

The prime minister added that he was concerned about possible legal consequences or the binding effect of a decision approving the police chief’s resignation.

Upon learning the PM’s decision, the outgoing police chief submitted his request for leave of absence between yesterday and the end of this month. The request was submitted to the prime minister through Deputy Premier Suthep Thaugsuban.

A legal expert in the police force said yesterday that without approval from the prime minister, who is the police chief’s direct supervisor, Patchawarat’s resignation would be ineffective.

The source said the police chief could not just stop working while his resignation was not endorsed by the PM. To be absent from work for more than 15 days is considered a severe disciplinary offence punishable by dismissal without pension, according to the source, who requested anonymity.

Patcharawat, who is scheduled to retire at the end of this month when reaching the compulsory retirement age of 60, was indicted by the NACC on Monday for criminal malfeasance along with ex-premier Somchai Wongsawat, former deputy premier Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and other senior police officers.

The NACC members voted 8-1 on the indictment decision.

Patcharawat’s lawyer Bancha Porameekanaporn filed a lawsuit with the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court against the NACC and the eight commissioners who voted to indict him, accusing them of criminal malfeasance. The plaintiff accused the NACC commissioners of failing to abide by the anti-graft law in their investigation into the October 7 case.

The court scheduled the first hearing of Patcharawat’s case on December 14.

NACC member Vichai Vivitsevi said yesterday that even if the prime minister endorsed the police chief’s resignation, the severe disciplinary punishment against Patcharawat would remain, leaving the PM to choose between dismissal with pension or without pension.

Yesterday Suthep said he had already forwarded the police chief’s resignation letter to the prime minister for consideration.

Suthep said as the Police Commission chairman, he also recommended Patcharawat should be allowed to leave the job. Patcharawat’s resignation reached Government House on Wednesday evening, Suthep said.

He said it was Patchawarat’s right to resign and it was for the premier, who is his superior, to decide. “In my view, Patcharawat is a good man regardless of the public sentiment against him,” he said. Suthep, however, denied media speculation that he usually sided with the police chief.

Patcharawat announced his resignation on Wednesday after the premier transferred him to an inactive post in the PM’s Office. The transfer came a few days after the NACC’s indictment decision.

By The Nation
Published on September 11, 2009

 

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