World

Thai official fired for 'extremely evil' misconduct

BANGKOK: A top official in Thailand's palace has been fired for "extremely evil" misconduct and political interests which threatened national security, the government said yesterday.

Police General Jumpol Manmai, who had served as intelligence chief under ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, had until recently been one of the most senior figures in new King Maha Vajiralongkorn's household.

The government said in a statement that Gen Jumpol had "committed misconduct considered extremely evil behaviour" which did not befit a civil servant with a position close to the king.

"He has wrongly used his official position for personal gain. He had political interests which were detrimental to national security and not trusted by the king," said the statement signed by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha.

A police spokesman said he could not comment on whether Gen Jumpol would be prosecuted over the accusations in the statement. The general faces a separate investigation for building private property on protected land.

Neither Gen Jumpol nor his family were immediately available for comment.

With prison sentences of up to 15 years for any offence of insulting the monarchy, Thais are cautious of commenting on anything related to the palace.

The law also limits what news organisations can report from Thailand.

The king has asserted his authority on many fronts since taking the throne in December last year after the death of his revered father.

Besides changes within the palace, he has requested constitutional changes to which the junta agreed.

Party politics stopped in 2014 when the junta seized power in the name of ending political chaos.

But a divide remains between a largely Bangkok-based, conservative elite and followers of Mr Thaksin's populist movement.

Mr Thaksin, overthrown in 2006, lives in exile to avoid a jail term for corruption that he says was politically motivated. - REUTERS

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