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16 Jul

Prosecutor faces rhino horn probe

Bangkok Post 15 July 2017

A senior public prosecutor in Saraburi will face a disciplinary probe in connection with the smuggling of rhino horns worth 173 million baht seized at Suvarnabhumi airport in March.

Pranot Pongpaew, inspector-general of the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) and head of the initial fact-finding panel on the case said it is suspected that Pol Maj Gen Worapas Boonsri, deputy Saraburi chief public prosecutor in charge of rights protection, legal assistance and law enforcement, may be guilty of serious disciplinary violations concerning the smuggling case.

The panel suggested that a disciplinary probe committee be established to look into the suspicions concerning Pol Maj Gen Worapas.

Mr Pranot said the recommendation was submitted to Attorney-General Pongniwat Yuthapanboriparn who will consider whether to proceed with the proposed disciplinary investigation.

The probe panel, if it is set up, will have a 30-day time frame but it can seek an extension if necessary.

If found guilty by the disciplinary committee, Pol Maj Gen Worapas could be dismissed.

The 21 rhino horns, worth 173 million baht, smuggled from Ethiopia by two Thai women, were seized at Suvarnabhumi Airport on March 10.

The women fled when they were being escorted to customs by airport officials and saw the bag being scanned.

However, one of them later turned herself over to police.

Pol Maj Gen Worapas and two police officers were allegedly caught on CCTVs at the airport accompanying the luggage in which the smuggled rhino horns were found.

The video clip went viral online, drawing severe criticism from the public against the state officials.

Following the backlash, the attorney-general ordered the setting-up of a panel to investigate the issue, chaired by Mr Pranot, saying the trafficking of the high-value rhino horns had garnered public attention and Pol Maj Gen Worapas being implicated in the case severely tarnished the reputation of the OAG.

Pol Maj Gen Worapas was later transferred to an inactive post at the OAG in Bangkok pending the investigation. TAGS horns rhino RECOMMENDED STORIES Floods in India’s northeast kill 40; endanger rare…

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