Former detention centre for political, security inmates set to be revived

September 16, 2011
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Modern Thai political history would not be complete without mention of the Special Branch Police [SBP] prison. Also known as the Lak Si temporary detention centre, it is being brought back into operation after being mothballed two years ago. The plan to revive and renovate the prison is welcome news for many special branch officers such as SBP chief Tritos Ronritthiwichai. “This is a historic place. Many military top brass, police generals, politicians were once behind bars here,” he said. The detention centre is at the former Bang Khen private police training school and will be used to detain those charged in security, political cases and foreign prisoners.

Former Corrections Department chief Chartchai Suthiklom said prisons face overcrowding problems with too many drug prisoners and other inmates jailed together. Separating political and security prisoners from other inmates would help ease overcrowding. The SBP will oversee the detention centre while Corrections Department staff will work as assistants. Little renovation work would be required. New metal bars will be installed at a cost of 5 million baht to replace the old ones which were removed after the detention centre was closed. The renovated prison is expected to accommodate about 300 inmates.

The Lak Si detention centre, on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road in Lak Si district, Bangkok, is supervised by the SBP Division 3. It was adapted from a two-storey wooden house which served as a classroom at the former Bang Khen police school. In 1963, a four-storey building was built to replace the wooden house to detain political and security prisoners. In 2006, the Justice Ministry requested use of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors to provide inmates with job training. In 2009, the SBP decided to turn the venue into a head office of SBP Division 3, but the plan ran into budget constraints and never went ahead.

The venue housed many high-profile political and security prisoners for almost 50 years. They included Sub Lt Chalard Worachat, a well-known activist, Maj Gen Sanan Kachornprasart, a list MP with coalition party Chartthaipattana, Veerakarn Musikhapong, the former leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, and Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang, leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy. Security prisoners once detained at the venue include Daoh Maseng, leader of the Pattani United Liberation Organisation (Pulo). Pongsak Rojanasaksakul, or Li Yun Chung, an associate of the heroin warlord Khun Sa, was also held at the centre before being extradited to the US.

Source: Bangkok Post

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