Mayor said to have locked 5 reporters in office over photo

BANGKOK (AP) " A mayor in northeastern Thailand has been accused of angrily locking five reporters in his office and having workers pull the pants off one to be photographed.

Premsak Piayura was reported to have been upset over a front-page story and photo Tuesday in the Daily News appearing to show him as a partner in an engagement ceremony. Premsak is 51 and married, however, and the newspaper asserted that his new partner in the ceremony is 16 or 17 year old. The photo circulated widely on the internet before and after it was published in the national newspaper.

Thai media reported Thursday that the mayor said he was only helping out the girl's family and that the photo was an invasion of his privacy. According to the journalists present, the mayor asked Daily News reporter Korsit Kongchom, whose pants the mayor had had removed, how he felt to be photographed in an intimate manner. He was allowed to put his pants back on after about five minutes.

The journalists said they had been invited to Premsak's office after asking about the engagement photo. But when they arrived, their mobile phones and cameras were taken away, and they were held for two hours.

Korsit originally said he would not go to the police because it would make it hard to work with area officials, but on Wednesday he filed complaints against the mayor alleging of illegal detention and the use of force to compel an action.

Premsak responded by threatening to charge the journalists with trespassing.

Khon Kaen province Governor Kamthorn Thavornsathit said if the mayor was found guilty, he would be removed from his job.

"Such an incident should not have happened and would be improper if it did occur as alleged," said Kamthorn. "If the probe finds Premsak guilty of abuse of authority by ordering his subordinates to take off a reporter's pants and illegally detaining other reporters, he will be removed from the post."

The Thai Journalists Association condemned Premsak for threatening their colleagues and also urged an investigation.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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