Senate opposes police request to question Senator Upakit

Senators have voted against a police summons being served on Senator Upakit Pachariyangkun over drug trafficking allegations following a debate where he defended himself.

On 9 October 2023, Matichon Online reported that the Senate, chaired by Deputy Speaker Supachai Somcharoen, discussed a police summons for Senator Upakit. During the session, Supachai stated that the Senate had received a letter from the Royal Thai Police summoning Senator Upakit for questioning and to notify him of an additional charge of drug trafficking.

However, according to Section 125 of the Constitution, while parliament is in session, no member of the House of Representatives or Senate can be arrested or subjected to a warrant as a suspect without the permission of the chamber where they are a member.

Upakit defended himself by stating that he has suffered from an unfair charge for a year. He noted that he left the Allure Group in 2019 when he was appointed to the Senate. He had been a broker selling electricity between the Thai and Myanmar border for 15 years and had never encountered any problems. Tun Min Latt entered the business between 2020 and 2022 and his financial transactions allegedly involved drug trafficking.

Senator Upakit was allegedly involved in Allure P&E, a company used for money laundering by Myanmar tycoon Tun Min Latt, who was arrested in Bangkok last year. The involvement was revealed in parliament on 15 February 2023 by MP Rangsiman Rome from the Move Forward Party.

Senator Upakit stated that Rangsiman used a forged chat between him and Tun Min Latt. He reiterated that he has never been involved in drug trafficking. He added that he has already filed two lawsuits against MP Rangsiman.

The Senator said that he is willing to enter the judicial process without the need for any protection.

Senator Wiwat Sangsuriyachat said that he had asked the police to present the evidence against the Senator to the Senate and that he would approve the summons.

After the debate, 174 Senators voted against the police's request to question Senator Upakit, with 7 voting to support the summons and 10 abstaining.

It was found in October 2022 that an arrest warrant for Upakit had been issued in connection with an alleged drug trafficking and money laundering ring operating out of a casino in the Golden Triangle, which was built by a firm that is part of Tun Min Latt’s Star Sapphire Group of Companies, but the warrant was quickly retracted. A Thai news programme, meanwhile, reported that it never existed, while another outlet took down a story about the warrant without explanation.

Testimony from an inspector leading the team investigating drug and money laundering charges against Tun Min Latt and Dean Yong Gultula, Upakit’s son-in-law, was leaked in March 2023, stating that executives in the Criminal Court, including deputy chief justice Attakarn Foocharoen, had the arrest warrant for Upakit revoked. The testimony also noted that officers involved in charging Upakit were then involuntarily transferred to other posts, which has led them to believe that the transfers were made in order to stop them from investigating Upakit.

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