The authorities are hunting for whoever was behind reports that a police whistleblower who leaked footage of a suspect being tortured to death had himself died mysteriously.
Maj. Gen. Yingyong Thepjamnong, national police spokesperson, said they were looking for whoever spread “fake news” about the drowning of Tossaporn Kaewkoed, who was said to be the junior police officer who implicated Col. Thitisan “Chief Joe” Utthanaphol in torturing a drug trafficking suspect to death.
Yingyong said that no such officer existed, and whoever spread the news faces up to five years in prison for violating the Computer Crime Act.
The police have been reeling from outrage over Thitisan’s brutality and the privilege he’s been extended despite his confession. Rather than announce sincere reforms, they have gone on the offensive against further sources of embarrassment.
The so-called Anti-Fake News Center Thailand, a government agency vested with the power to declare information to be “fake news,” warned the public this morning not to share the story, which had been posted to a crude website and spread via Facebook in recent days.
Since last week, Thailand has been gripped by the story of Thitisan, who was chief of Nakhon Sawan city police, suffocating a man to death at his station. Six other cops were involved, according to the footage that was leaked to a lawyer.
So far, the whistleblower who leaked the footage has not been identified.
During the weekend, a famous former maverick politician alleged that there had never been a whistleblower to begin with. Chuwit Kamolvisit told reporters that the footage was leaked by dirty police officer rivals of Thitisan. He did not present any evidence.
Although all the officers involved have been arrested and charged with crimes including malfeasance and using torture to kill someone, there is wide skepticism that Thitisan, who is suspiciously wealthy and well-connected, will face meaningful consequences.
That’s raised concern for the well-being of whoever leaked the footage last week.
This article, Thai police crusade against ‘fake news’ after torture snuff video embarrassment, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.