In a recent post on former deputy national police chief Jumpol Manmai, once close to King Vajiralongkorn, and now dismissed from royal service we speculated on his forthcoming court appearance, we stated: We look forward to seeing him and whether, like earlier royal prisoners, has been shaved bald.
We said this because those who fall out with the king tend to have their heads shaved to shame them and then they spend a precarious existence in prison expecting to become a “death in custody” at any moment.
The Bangkok Post reports that “[p]olice on Thursday charged Pol Gen Jumpol Manmai, a former deputy police chief and Grand Chamberlain of the Bureau of the Royal Household, with forest encroachment in Nakhon Ratchasima province.”
The police stated that the “the suspect had confessed to the charges.” Of course he did, having been disappeared for a couple of weeks.
Reuters reported on the event that saw scores of reporters trying to provide coverage of the disgraced palace official.
Jumpol Manmai’s dismissal from the palace was one of the most prominent under King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who has asserted his authority on several fronts since taking the throne in December following the death of his father.
Jumpol looked gaunt and tired as he arrived at the Crime Suppression Division in a grey T-shirt instead of his usual uniform and braid. His head had been shaved – a ritual humiliation for those who fall from grace with the palace.
We are not sure that the linking of “ritual” and”humiliation” is correct here. It is something that Vajiralongkorn does as he is a cruel and vindictive type.
Jumpol was fired for misconduct described by the palace as “extremely evil”. He abused his post for personal gain and his political interests threatened national security, it said.
He does not face charges related to those accusations, but to illegal private building on protected forest land in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima. Four people are accused alongside him.
Neither Jumpol nor his lawyer made any comment to media.
Speculation in Thailand and on social media over Jumpol’s fate and whereabouts in recent days had been fuelled by the deaths in custody in 2015 of two men who had been accused of insulting the palace and abusing links to the monarchy….
Jumpol had served as intelligence chief under ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose populist movement’s confrontation with a conservative establishment elite has been behind more than a decade of turmoil in Thailand.
We now wonder if he will die in prison.