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Guard distraught after assault.... Doctors report eardrum injured in airport attack

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An airport security officer allegedly assaulted by a high-ranking customs officer at Suvarnabhumi airport is worried about his safety and career.

Sirichai Maichum, 32, a security officer at Suvarnabhumi airport, left, points to his left ear thatwas injured after hewas assaulted on Wednesday. SOMCHAI POOMLARD

Sirichai Maichum, 32, who suffered an ear injury in the assault, said the attack shocked him and made him wonder whether he can carry on working at the airport.

He said he did not know the man who attacked him, and was surprised to have been treated in such a hostile manner.

The customs officer accused of assaulting Mr Sirichai, identified as chief of passenger inspection at Suvarnabhumi airport Sombat Chartchaiwaiyawit, has been transferred from his post pending an investigation.

A video clip of the incident, uploaded on YouTube, prompted Mr Sombat's transfer.

The clip contains footage from a surveillance camera that shows a man smacking the ears of a security officer at the airport after he was stopped for a body pat-down during a security check process.

Mr Sirichai said his team was told that a VIP group from the Customs Department would pass through security that day. The incident occurred at 1pm on Sunday.

Mr Sirichai said there are two channels for security checks _ one for ordinary passengers and the other one for cabin crew and staff with authorisation.

The suspect,Sombat Chartchaiwaiyawit.

Mr Sombat came through the ordinary passenger channel with his VIP group but he refused to submit to a body pat-down, Mr Sirichai said.

"He shouted very loudly: "You have no right to check me' and showed me his customs officer's card," Mr Sirichai said.

"I felt scared. I said I was sorry and moved backwards but he walked towards me and thumped my ears until a woman in the VIP group told him to stop."

Reports said Mr Sombat also remonstrated with Mr Sirichai. He asked him why he was being subjected to the checks when he passed the checkpoint so frequently.

Mr Sirichai has lodged a complaint with police.

Superintendent of Suvarnabhumi airport police station Nathanant Nanasombat said Mr Sombat had been summoned for questioning.

Lat Krabang hospital doctors checked Mr Sirichai's condition and said his left eardrum was ruptured. He also has earache and experiences ringing in his right ear.

Mr Sirichai said he did not know who uploaded the footage to YouTube. His supervisor, who was also at the scene, has filed a report with police and Airports of Thailand.

"I feel staggered by what happened," Mr Sirichai said.

"I am as polite as possible to passengers. During my five years working here, I have come across other VIPs who refuse to have a body scan. I have never tried to stop them going through.

"I feel uncomfortable this has turned into such a big incident. I don't know what to do, and am not sure whether I can continue to work at the airport," he said.

Mr Sirichai said his supervisor had told him that the customs officer had made contact, asking if he could negotiate.

Karn Thongyai, managing director of Asia Security Management _ the company contracted to provide security at Suvarnabhumi airport _ praised Mr Sirichai for his ability to keep his cool under duress.

"I hope this incident makes people realise the risks which security officers face in doing their duty for the safety of passengers," Mr Karn said.

Mr Sirichai is taking a 15-day break. Pol Col Nathanant said Mr Sombat has informed him he is prepared to meet investigators.

Pol Col Nathanant said Mr Sombat must report to the police by Jan 18 so he can be informed about any charges to be laid against him.

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Guest Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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