Saudi Arabia "regrets" promotion of indicted Thai police officer
Saudi Arabia has expressed regrets over the promotion of a Thai police officer indicted this year for his alleged role in the murder of a Saudi businessman, media reports said Saturday, dpa reported.
The Saudi Arabia embassy in Bangkok said in a statement released Friday night that it was concerned to learn of the promotion of Somkid Boonthanom to the post of assistant national police chief, effective October 1, "in a manner that may affect the course of legal proceedings against the defendants," the Bangkok Post reported.
The embassy warned that the development could jeopardize bilateral relations.
The first hearing in Somkid's case is scheduled for November 25.
Thailand's attorney general in January indicted five serving and former police officers, including Somkid, in the murder of a Saudi businessman allegedly linked to the theft of a Saudi prince's 50-carat blue diamond and other jewelry.
The five officers were charged with involvement in the murder of Mohammad al-Ruwaili, who went missing in Bangkok in 1990.
Thailand's diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia have been poor for the past two decades because of successive governments' failure to solve the al-Ruwaili case and the murders of three Saudi diplomats.
The Saudis are also awaiting the return of millions of dollars of jewelry stolen from the home of Prince Faisal Bin Abdul Ra-ish in Riyadh in 1989, including the blue diamond.
From June to August 1989, Thai janitor Kriangkrai Techamong stole an estimated 502 million baht (15 million dollars) of jewelry from the prince's Riyadh palace and managed to post it to Thailand before returning home himself. The theft prompted a Saudi investigation in Bangkok that has been linked to the slaying of the three diplomats and the disappearance of al-Ruwaili from 1989 to 1990.
Thai police arrested Kriangkrai, who confessed to the thefts and went to prison. Thai authorities retrieved much of the stolen jewelry, but when it was returned to Saudi Arabia, many of the items proved to be imitations, including the blue diamond.
Thai Police Lieutenant General Chalor Kerdthes, who was originally in charge of the investigation, has been sentenced to death for abducting and murdering the wife and son of a Thai jewelry dealer allegedly involved in the case.
Saudi Arabia downgraded diplomatic relations with Thailand in 1990 over the unsolved cases, refusing to allow Thai labourers to work in the country and barring Saudi tourists from visiting Thailand.
The Saudi Arabian government said it expects Thailand to tackle the unsolved murders and return the blue diamond before relations could return to normal.