Department of Special Investigation

Not to be confused with Special Investigations.
Department of Special Investigation
Department overview
Formed 3 October 2002 (2002-10-03)
Type Ministerial department
Jurisdiction Government of Thailand
Headquarters Bangkok, Thailand
Department executive
  • Mrs Suwana Suwanjata, Director-General
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).[1] 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.[2][3][4]

Notable Cases

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".[5]

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[6][7] among supporters and opponents of the temple with supporters calling the charges politically motivated.[8][9] DSI itself has come under fire from both supporters[10] and opponents[11] of the case as well as other departments of the Thai Ministry of Justice for their handling of the case.[12][13][14] 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,[15] his charges at the temple as was requested.[13][14] 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,[16][17] in violation of Thai Criminal Procedure Code Section 39(2).[18]


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.[19][20] 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.[20]

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.[21] DSI also announced that their CCTV servers had malfunctioned at the time and therefore there were no recordings from security cameras of the incident.[22]


  1. "Law enforcement agency tries to shake off shackles". Bangkok Post. 10 May 2009.
  2. "Thailand: Effort underway to define functions of Department of Special Investigation.". Thai Press Reports. 8 March 2007. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  3. "Thai special investigation team must politically freed: senior official". People's Daily Online. Xinhua. 12 July 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  4. Laohong, King-oua (1 September 2012). "Famed crime fighter bows out". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  5. Supreme Court clears former park chief in 'Billy' case
  6. Liusuwan, Nicholas. "Complexities of Thai Buddhism". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  7. "Social Media Campaign Launched by Dhammakaya Followers". Digital Journal. 13 June 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  8. Marshall, Andrew R.C. (16 June 2016). "Meditating devotees shield scandal-hit abbot from Thai police". Reuters. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  9. Rojanaphruk, Pravit (12 June 2016). "Yellow and Red Seen in Orange in Dhammakaya Scandal". Khaosod English. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  10. "Everything you need to know about the Dhammakaya Scandal: A Short Fact Sheet". Dhammakaya Uncovered. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  11. "DSI head mulls backlash over Dhammajayo case". Bangkok Post. 6 June 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  12. "เผชิญหน้า 28/6/59 : "เสรีพิศุทธ์" ขอเคลียร์ "ผมไม่ได้รบแทน ธรรมกาย". Spring News. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  13. 1 2 "Interview of Deputy Prosecutor Mr. Paramat Intarachumum". TNN. 26 May 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  14. 1 2 "Interview with former Police General Sereepisuth Temiyaves". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  15. "Professional Specialist's Personal Opinion on Phra Dhammajayo's Health". Dhammakaya Uncovered. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  16. "Peace TV Interviews Lawyer: Legal Code Supports Venerable Dhammajayo's Innocence". Dhammakaya Uncovered. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  17. "คุยข่าวเล่าธรรม04 06 59". Peace TV. 3 June 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  18. "The Criminal Procedure Code" (PDF). UNODC. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  19. Laohong, King-Oua (2 September 2016). "Arrested former lands official found dead in DSI cell". The Bangkok Post. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  20. 1 2 TAMNUKASETCHAI, PIYANUCH (2 September 2016). "Death of land official shrouded in mystery". The Nation. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  21. Laohong, King-Oua (1 September 2016). "Doctor dismisses DSI's cause of suspect's death theory". The Bangkok Post. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  22. THAMNUKASETCHAI, PIYANUCH (8 September 2016). "Probe into suspect's death in DSI custody to be concluded in 30 days: police". The Nation. Retrieved 18 September 2016.

External links

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