Panel set up to investigate checkpoint case

Judge also asked to explain himself after video of him refusing to show licence to policeman goes viral

Stickers reading 'I'm Choke's Friend' seen in social media.

The Nakhon Si Thammarat police chief has set up a panel to investigate an incident in which a man claiming to be a judge refused to show his driving licence to a policeman when asked, saying he was a friend of the policeman’s boss.

Pol Maj Gen Takoon Natepukkana said the investigation should be finished in seven days.

Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, the national police chief, had earlier ordered a “fair investigation” into the case, which has gained notoriety after a video of the man being stopped at a checkpoint was posted online. Satirical songs and stickers have already emerged mocking the judge’s behaviour.

Sarawut Benjakul, secretary-general of the Courts of Justice, has also asked the judge in question, Krairat Veerapattanasuwan, for an explanation of his actions. The issue is also expected to be brought up at a Judicial Commission meeting on Monday.

Mr Krairat is the chief justice of the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases for Region 8, which includes Nakhon Si Thammarat.

The incident happened on the night of May 2 when police from Thung Yai station set up a checkpoint. Pol Lance Corporal Ekkapol Juisongkaew stopped a car and asked the driver for his licence. The man refused to comply and claimed he was chief justice of the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases, Region 8, and a friend of “Choke”, the nickname of the superintendent of Thung Yai police station. Pol L/C Ekkapol insisted it was standard procedure.

Another policeman intervened and let the man go. Pol L/C Ekkapol was later transferred to desk duty and his boss suggested the officer needed to learn how to be more respectful. But after the video clip went viral, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered the officer’s reinstatement.

Meanwhile, social media has been abuzz with “I’m Choke’s Friend” memes making fun of the judge. The catchphrase has been used in satirical songs and put onto stickers that drivers can put on their cars to “ward off policemen at checkpoints”. 

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