Thai police award bombing reward money to themselves, to show they “are good at their job”

Look! Money!
Look! Money!
Image: AP Photo/AP Video
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Thailand’s police made a much-heralded arrest this weekend of a man they say was involved in this month’s deadly bombing attack on a shrine in central Bangkok—though they have not released his name, nationality, or alleged connection to the attack, or charged him with any crime.

But that seemed to be enough for national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung, who held a celebratory news conference on Monday, and announced that the 3 million baht ($84,000 reward) that had been posted for information on the bombing would be awarded to the police force itself.

The award will serve to ”motivate his officers and to show that Thailand’s police are good at their job,” the Associated Press reported. As he displayed stacks of 1,000 baht bills, Somyot proclaimed: “This is real money.”

“It is the ability of Thai officials that led to the arrest,” he added. “This money should be given to officials who did their job.” Only 1 million baht was initially offered as a reward, but it was boosted to 3 million after two “friends” of Somyot chipped in additional funds.

The AP noted that it was “not immediately clear how the reward money would be distributed to police officers.”

Thailand also issued an arrest warrant for a women who they say is connected with the bombing. Police said that Wanna Suansun, who rented an apartment where bomb-making materials were found, may be in Turkey, where her husband is from.

But many Thais are skeptical that the military government will ever bring the actual perpetrators of the bombing to justice, especially if the motives are rooted in the country’s labyrinthine political conflicts. The Thai police have a long and sordid history of scapegoating  foreigners and ethnic minority groups for high-profile crimes, often after brutal torture to induce forced confessions.

The police blamed the murder of two British tourists in 2014 on two Burmese migrants, who have said they were tortured. Asked about allegations of scapegoating last year, deputy prime minister and minister of defense Prawit Wongsuwan said: “The police are doing their job. If the police hear your accusation, they will be sad.”