Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thailand jails Thaksin lawyers in "snack box" case

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

BANGKOK: Thailand's Supreme Court jailed a lawyer and two legal advisers of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Wednesday after an apparent attempt to bribe court officials with $60,000 (30,400 pounds) hidden in a paper grocery bag.

Pichit Chuenban and two associates representing Thaksin and his wife in a pending land-deal case were responsible for the 2 million baht left in the bag at the Supreme Court compound earlier this month, the court ruled.

The bag was found on the day that Thaksin, ousted in a coup in 2006, and his wife were due to appear on charges of violating graft laws that prevent serving politicians and their spouses from striking deals with state agencies.

The three lawyers denied the charge of misbehaviour in a court, but Judge Mongkol Tabthieng was unimpressed.

"The action of the three accused was a blatant offence committed in the compound of the Supreme Court. Given the fact that they are in the legal profession, their joint action has tarnished the court's image," he said in his verdict.

Pichit's associate, Thana Tansiri, had already admitted to the court that the money belonged to him but said it had not been intended for use as a bribe.

Instead, he said his driver had mistakenly picked up the bag with the money instead of an identical one that contained chocolates he had meant to give to court officials.

(Reporting by Chalathip Thirasoonthrakul; writing by Vithoon Amorn; Editing by Ed Cropley and Sanjeev Miglani)

No comments: