The Min Buri Court on Thursday sentenced four policemen to death for stealing seized drugs in 2012.

The sentence was commuted to life because they cooperated and gave useful information during their trial.

The four police officers – Pol Lt Choengchob Ratchakhom, Pol Sr Sgt Maj Somsak Thiprassami, Pol Sgt Maj Patara Vorachanant and Pol Cpl Noppadol Phan-aree – were members of the Bangkok Metropolitan Police Division 3’s drug suppression task force. They were arrested, along with Chawalit Kamnerdkhonkaen, a civilian, by narcotics suppression police on March 19, 2012.

The court was told the four policemen had that day detained a number of drug dealers in possession of 300,000 methamphetamine pills and 4kg of crystal methamphetamine. They let them go without taking action against them.

Instead, they took the drugs and hid them in a car. The car was parked in the parking lot of the Metropolitan Police Division 3 headquarters. Mr Chawalit, the civilian, was suspected of being involved.

The court dropped charges against Mr Chawalit because there were reasons to believe he knew nothing about the theft.

However, the court ordered he remain in detention, pending a possible appeal by the prosecution.