Department of Special Investigation
|Formed||3 October 2002|
|Jurisdiction||Government of Thailand|
|Parent department||Ministry of Justice|
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) is a department of the Ministry of Justice of Thailand. It operates independently of the Royal Thai Police and is tasked with the investigation of certain "special cases". These include complex criminal cases, those affecting national security, those involving organised criminal organisations and those potentially implicating high-ranking government officials or police officers.
The DSI is often referred to as Thailand's counterpart to the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Since its inception, the DSI has seen conflicts with the police over jurisdiction and authority over cases, and department officials have publicly expressed concern that the department's work has been consistently subject to political interference.
As of 2014, the agency is still investigating the (claimed) death of Somchai Neelapaijit. In 2015 the disappearance of "Billy" Rakchongcharoen, a Karen rights activist, resulted in his wife petitioning the agency to "take up the issue for consideration as a special case".
In 2016, DSI opened a much publicized case against Phrathepyanmahamuni, the abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya after some funds from an alleged embezzlement case was traced to donations made to the temple. The case has been called a proxy war among supporters and opponents of the temple with supporters calling the charges politically motivated. DSI itself has come under fire from both supporters and opponents of the case as well as other departments of the Thai Ministry of Justice for their handling of the case. One of the most criticized aspects of DSI's handling of the case is its refusal to give the abbot, who has numerous health issues including diabetes, deep vein thrombosis and chronic leg ulcers, his charges at the temple as was requested. Other criticisms of DSI's handling of the case include filing the charges against the abbot, who merely accepted the donations on behalf of the temple, rather than Wat Phra Dhammakaya itself, and continuing to pursue the charges after the victim credit union withdrew charges, in violation of Thai Criminal Procedure Code Section 39(2).
On August 30th, 2016 it was reported by DSI that one of the suspects they had detained was allegedly found unconscious and hanging in his cell. The suspect, Tawatchai Anukul, who was a suspect in a case of land deed fraud, was then rushed to Mongkutwattana Hospital in which he was later pronounced dead after several attempts at revival. DSI gave conflicting reports about how Tawatchai was found, with one official stating he likely committed suicide by hanging himself with his shirt, while another official later gave a report stating he was found hanging by his socks. Tawatchai's family members also reported that DSI gave them contradictory information regarding his death. For instance, family members pointed out that the wound on Tawatchai's neck looked like it came from a wire rather than clothes.
However, an autopsy revealed that Tawatchai had died of a ruptured liver, suggesting blunt trauma, as well as suffocation. DSI had stated that the liver rupture was due to the hospital team performing CPR on Tawatchai in an attempt to revive him, which the hospital dismissed as not possible. DSI also announced that their CCTV servers had malfunctioned at the time and therefore there were no recordings from security cameras of the incident.
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