All maintained their inno¬cence, claiming they had been doing their duty and following the orders of supervisors.
The officers' surrender brings to eight the number of alleged gang members who have turned themselves in to authorities. Meanwhile , the Justice Ministry has set up a 20 member team to help 188 peo¬ple who claim to be victims of rogue border policemen.
Pol SgtMaj Suwit Sukthawi, Pol SgtMaj Rangsiman Sukkaew, Pol SgtMaj Niran Taemchuay, Pol Sgt Apisak Polsawas, and Pol Sgt Panung Duangkamol, went to the Border Patrol Police (BPP) headquarters yesterday morn¬ing with lawyer Surin Sukkeua. The five worked under the 42nd BPP unit in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Police say their alleged vic¬tim, Juthaporn Noonrod, was twomonths pregnant when the alleged offences took place in Bangkok's Petchkasem area. At Petchkasem police station the five accused responded to the the charges,.insisting they were innocent, had been following orders and would present evi¬dence in court to clear them¬selves.
Suwit said they did not use vio¬lence and electric shocks on Juthaporn who had a history of dealing drugs. He said that he had not known the woman prior to the arrest. In a shaky voice and with tears in his eyes, Suwit said he and his fellow officers had served the country for over 10 years.
Defence lawyer Surin said the accused officers reported first to BPP headquarters, because that had been their original posting. rather than the Petchkasem police station Surin
said the officers' families had been ordered out of their police flats since the arrest warrants were issued this month, leaving their wives without homes and their children out of school.
Surin said that the 42nd BPP unit superintendent Colonel Somkiat Neuthong and his deputy LtCol Kamol Sukprasert, were responsible for signing the orders to move the officers' families from the police flats.
A colleague of the accused officers, Pol SgtMaj Bumrung Cholyingyong, said he did not believe the allegations against them. He said they were mem¬bers of a special team within the drug investigation unit who rechecked information before making arrests. He said he felt for the five and their families.
Bumrung said that he also knew Captain Nat Chonnitiwanich, who led the accused team, as a hard work¬ing and able officer mostly involved in drugs cases. He believed that Pol SgtMaj Jaroon Kaewkul who had turned himself in and later shot himself dead, committed sui¬cide over the stress from these allegations.
Meanwhile, the Justice Ministry's team to help victims of the rogue border policemen, started work this week at the Surat Thani prison, where 99 plaintiffs are held. Corrections Department deputy chief Colonel Phokhapaibul Potranant. said most plaintiffs claimed they had been kid¬napped by the team, taken to a safe house, tortured to impli¬cate people they knew and faced with bogus drug charges. He said that if the plaintiffs were later found to have filed faulty complaints, they would be held responsible to their words.