Tue, Dec 02, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Thai royal’s family stripped of titles over graft scandal

AFP, BANGKOK

The family of the wife of Thailand’s crown prince have been stripped of an honorific title, police confirmed yesterday, after three of her relatives were caught up in a high-profile corruption scandal.

In a letter circulated on social media over the weekend, Thai Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn asked the country’s ruling military junta to forbid anyone from using the surname “Akkharapongpricha.”

Three people with the surname — an honorific given to relatives of Thai Princess Srirasmi following her marriage to the crown prince — were arrested last week on graft charges as part of a widening investigation into an allegedly corrupt cabal of senior police officers.

“It is the royal last name given to the cousins and siblings [of the princess],” national police spokesman Lieutenant General Prawut Thavornsiri said, adding that 19 people have now been arrested in the widening probe. “There was a document spread on social media. We checked and it is true that they have been stripped of their royally given surname.”

The Bangkok Post and other media reported that the three men worked within the palace.

The scandal exploded last week when three senior officers were arrested on a string of bribery charges. Unusually, some of them were also charged for defaming the monarchy, with police saying they had made “false claims” about a royal to justify crimes that allegedly ranged from running illegal casinos to oil smuggling, kidnapping and extortion.

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