A “internet idol” is facing defamation charges after accusing Pattaya police of physical abuse, charges that authorities say they have proof are false.
Manussaya Yaowarat, who hawks products online under the pseudonym “Flueksri Maneedaeng”, was arrested around 5 a.m. Dec. 5 on charges of possession of an outlawed e-cigarette. But she did not go quietly and the extent of what police did or did not do to place her in custody soon became the online buzz of the week.
Manussaya was stopped at a checkpoint on Central Road where police found her electronic cigarette and some “vaping” liquid on the dashboard of her friend’s car. She objected to being arrested for possession of the device, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail.
She alleged that an officer Jirawat Suwanapim assaulted her, held her in a neck lock and grabbed her hair, and that she also lost her bracelet in the scuffle.
“I’m only a small lady, I wasn’t wrong. It was only over an e-cigarette but they had to throw me in jail. They threw me around, pushed me, called me names, said things about my parents and then forced me to take a urine test.”
The drug test was necessary, police said, because Manussaya was lashing out wildly. Jirawat acknowledged restraining the virtual celebrity, but denied he used excessive force.
She was jailed to “cool off” police said, but continued screaming and banging loudly on the bars, preventing other inmates from sleeping, police said, adding that witnesses and security cameras confirmed the behavior.
She later was released on 100,000 baht bail, but proceeded to post photos and allegations online, claiming she was battered by police.
That proved too much for Pol. Col. Apichai Kroppech, who said he had been lenient in not charging Manussaya with resisting arrest and assaulting officers. He has witness accounts from other inmates and video footage – which he did not show the media – that he claims prove the ‘net idol’ was acting out and that officers did not assault her.
She now will be charged with criminal defamation in addition to the e-cigarette charge, Apichai said.