Chinese gamblers accuse Nongprue police of demanding 5-million-baht bribe

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Six Chinese nationals arrested in September for allegedly running an illegal online casino claim Nongprue police demanded a 5-million-baht bribe to drop the charges.

Attorney Sirichai Piya­pichetkul said his clients planned to submit a letter to national police chief Pol. Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda calling for an independent investigation into Nongprue police, who allegedly barred them access to an attorney, unfairly charged them with additional crimes and used a legal-office representative to solicit a bribe.

The six were captured at a rented house on Soi Khao Talo Sept. 18 where they operated online sports-betting and casino websites. Officers seized computers, mobile phones and 36 ATM cards. The suspects were charged with various immigration offenses, online theft and working without a permit.

Police said the operation, allegedly run by Liew Chang, had daily turnover of 2.3 million baht with Liew paid more than 1.3 million baht a month.

All the suspects denied they were involved in any crime and said the computers belonged to the previous homeowner. But, because police took their mobile phones, they were unable to contact the Chinese embassy to get a lawyer.

Sirichai said that, while his clients were behind bars, they got a chance to contact a legal office for help. This legal office said police wanted 5 million baht to drop the case and 1.6 million baht for bail in fees.

He continued that, on Sept. 26, Nongprue police returned the suspects cars and all the evidence they seized. Again insisting the computers were not theirs, the Chinese crew destroyed them.

Nongprue police then charged the six with destroying evidence and demanded an additional 350,000-baht compensation, Sirichai said.

Nongprue police chief Pol. Col. Chidecha Songhong denied any wrong-doing by his officers and said police followed proper procedures at all times, although he admitted officers accidentally left the evidence in the car when they returned it.

He said he is explaining the details of the case to his superiors.