Arrest warrants for 52 in police exam fraud

Jirapoj Plaiduang, 45, surrenders at Phahon Yothin police station in Bangkok on Tuesday before being released on bail. On Thursday the court approved a warrant for his arrest in relation to the police entrance exam fraud. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Criminal Court on Thursday approved arrest warrants for 52 suspects in the police entrance exam scandal, most of them medical and engineering students at leading universities.

Of the suspects, 51 are medical, engineering and dentistry students and the other was identified as Jeerapoj Plaiduang, 45, a city inspector, or thetsakit, based in Bangkok’s Pathumwan district and alleged leader of the gang at the centre of the exam fraud.

Mr Jeerapoj allegedly arranged for capable students not actually applying for the job to sit the entrance examination for non-commissioned officer applicants on Dec 4 and write answers in letters big enough for other examinees, the gang’s paying customers, to see and copy.

Police believe the cheating occurred in examinations for recruitment as non-commissioned officers at the Metropolitan Police Bureau and Provincial Police Region 7, which covers nearby provinces west and southwest to Bangkok.

In the application for court warrants, Bangkok police charged the suspects had gathered for illegal activities, made false declarations to authorities and input false information in computer systems.

The charges were backed by witnesses’ accounts and other evidence, including surveillance camera footage, police said.

Earlier reports said the university students received 20,000-30,000 baht each to sit in on the examinations and about 500 genuine applicants were involved.

Tawatchai Thaikyo, deputy permanent secretary for justice, said on Thursday that if the students were found guilty they could face punishment for the harshest offence: gathering for illegal activities. This offence carried a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and/or a fine of up to 14,000 baht.

If they confessed, the penalty could be halved and they could seek probation instead of imprisonment, Mr Tawatchai said. He felt the students should undergo a rehabilitation programme instead of being dismissed from their universities.

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