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The court on Monday denied bail to a policewoman who allegedly forced another woman, a low-ranking soldier, to work as her unpaid housemaid.  The victim was reportedly subjected to years of violence, including beating and electric shocks. 

Police officers and representatives from related state agencies gather at the Muang Ratchaburi police station to deliberate the case. (Source:Facebook/ Kan Jompalang

Police Corporal Kornsasi Buayaem, 43, was sent to jail in Ratchaburi province to await trial after the court ruled that she might tamper with evidence and witnesses if allowed to post bail. Police pledged to prosecute her in an impartial manner but were immediately unable to answer questions about her continued standing as a police officer.  

According to national police chief assistant Pol Lt Gen Surachet Hakparn, Kornsasi was charged with human trafficking, physical assault, malfeasance, and unlawful detention. 

Pol Lt Gen Surachet said that Kornsasi admitted to the charge of physical assault but claimed to be suffering from an unidentified mental condition, which caused her to occasionally lose control of herself. 

Kornsasi reportedly gave a medical certificate, a document that provided no details of the illness affecting her, to police investigators.

This case has attracted a lot of attention from the public and the media.  I have instructed [the investigators] to be meticulous in collecting the evidence and to speed up the process of providing the victim with assistance and justice,” Surachet told reporters on Saturday. 

The case came to publics attention on Thursday after a popular news show on Channel 3 aired an interview with the victim, who said she was assigned to work as a servant soldierat Kornsasis house in Ratchaburi without any pay for the past 2 years. 

The woman said Kornsasi would sometimes assault her out of anger, striking her in the face with a wooden stick, burning her skin with a hair curler, and applying electric shocks to her body. As the violence escalated, the woman said she quit the armed forces and sought help from her family in May of this year. 

In response to social media outrage, police officials in Ratchaburi opened an investigation into Kornsasi, vowing fairness to all sides involved. The policewoman turned herself in on Saturday. 

The same day, Surachet promised that Kornsasi will be prosecuted according to the law in a serious manner without exceptional treatment.” 

Kornsasi was charged but released after questioning, prompting the victims family to send a letter of protest to the media. In the letter, they stated that they feared retaliation from Kornsasi, who works as an officer in the Special Branch Police, a department often tasked with surveillance and running undercover operations. 

When investigators arraigned Kornsasi on Monday, they argued against her bail release, citing concerns that she might tamper with evidence in the case. The court agreed and ordered her jailed in a pre-trial detention. 

Unexplained mysteries 

Police have also come under fire for a number of unanswered questions surrounding Kornsasis career that hint at corruption and nepotism within the police force.

MGR Online, quoting investigators in the case, reports that Kornsasi offered to help the victim land a job as a soldier in the army in exchange for a process fee” of 500,000 baht.  With Kornsasis help, the victim eventually secured a post in the army, paying half the fee upfront and having the rest deducted from her monthly salary. 

How Kornsasi, an officer with a relatively junior rank in the police force, could arrange for her victim to be enlisted in the armed forces, is not immediately known.

According to investigators, Kornsasi later had the victim transferred to her residence as a servant soldier” who was forced to work without compensation. Her duties ranged from washing Kornsasis car, to cooking her meals, cleaning her house and performing other menial tasks that were assigned to her. 

Servant soldiers” or ทหารรับใช้, are common in the army – conscripts are often sent to work as gardeners and domestic workers at senior commandersresidences.  It is generally unheard of in the police force, however.   When questioned by reporters, a senior police official confirmed the fact.

I dont know how this could have happened,” Pol Maj General Udon Wongchuen, a commander of the Special Branch Police said of Kornsasis sequestering a servant soldier.” “Normally, its not allowed, no matter what police rank you have.”

The question has also arisen of how Kornsasi became a police officer in the first place. Udon said she enrolled in the police force as an officer in the Special Branch Police in 2017. According to police regulations, applicants over 35 are not accepted, but the records show that Kornsasi was 37 at the time her tenure started. Udon was immediately unable to explain how this happened.

I dont have details about this,” he told reporters. 

He also declined to say whether she received legally required mental health evaluations when applying for the job. Under a 2004 law, individuals diagnosed with certain physical and mental conditions, including psychosis, are barred from the police force. 

Surachet, the police commissioner’s assistant, was also unable to explain how Kornsasi was able to pass through the application process without revealing her alleged mental health issues. 

Perhaps the most damning media revelation was a report stating that Kornsasi is officially listed as a police officer who was recently transferred to the southern border provinces, where police and military have been combating the deadly separatist insurgency since 2004. 

Under government regulations, officers based in region are entitled to extra pay and benefits to compensate for the hazardous environment. Details have emerged that Kornsasi never moved to the southern region and was still living at her house in Ratchaburi when the investigation against her began. 

Special Branch Police commander Udon was unable to explain the matter but promised that the criminal investigation into Kornsasis alleged misconduct would be straightforward and not influenced by her service in the police force.

We wont be helping anybody out with favours,” he said. 

Note: At 14.30 of 23 August, Prachatai English replaced the original news with an edited version.

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