Bangkok city policemen sacked in connection with extortion

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BANGKOK (AP) — Three city policemen in Bangkok were fired Wednesday after failing to appear for questioning about their alleged role in extorting 1 million baht ($27,500) from a Japanese businessman.

Police Maj. Gen Chayapon Chatchaidej said three men, later determined to be police officers, confronted the man and his Thai girlfriend at their condominium in central Bangkok and threatened to arrest them on drug charges unless they were paid 3 million baht ($82,500 )

The couple were held until agreeing to hand over a reduced sum of 1 million baht ($27,500).

The officers accused of the crime face a charge of extorting with the use of firearms. Arrest warrants were issued for them Wednesday when they failed to answer a summons for questioning, and the case has also been forwarded for investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, said Chayapon.

The case has surfaced as Thailand’s National Police force is claiming to have solved the August bombing of the Erawan Shrine, a Bangkok landmark, which killed 20 people and injured more than 120. They have arrested the two man accused of actually carrying out the bombing and issued arrest warrant for 15 others believed to be involved.

Small-scale police corruption is not unusual, with street vendors and taxi drivers often forced to make small payoffs to carry out their work. A 2013 survey by the anti-corruption group Transparency International found that 71 percent of respondents among the public judged the police as corrupt or extremely corrupt, giving it the worst reputation of any public institution.

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