Thursday, July 31, 2008

Potjaman Guilty : The Beginning of the End?

via Bangkok Pundit by Bangkok Pundit on 7/30/08

Bangkok Post:
In a politically-loaded ruling, Criminal Court on Thursday found Pojaman Shinawatra - wife of coup-ousted premier Thaksin - guilty of tax evasion in a 1997 share transaction, court official said.

The heavily-guarded court, surrounded by some 2,000 Thaksin-supporters holding red roses, sentenced Pojaman to three years in jail for avoiding a tax bite amounting to 546 million baht (16.3 million dollars) on a share transfer to her step-brother Bannapot Damapong and her secretary Karnchanapa Honghern in 1997.

Bannapot was also sentenced to three years in jail and Karnchanapa to two years.

Thaksin and the couple's three children sat stony-faced throughout the ruling at the Bangkok court which was guarded by some 500 police. Pojaman had pleaded not guilty to the charge of tax evasion, claiming that the 738 million baht (22 million dollars) share transfer of Shinawatra Computer and Communications stock was a gift, not a business transaction.

The court said it had decided on a heavy sentence because both Pojaman and Bannapot were well-known public figures with responsibility to society.

BP: The Nation has more details on the decision.

This case always seemed to be the more substantive legal case compared with the Rachadphisek case or the lottery case so the guilty verdict is not surprising although I question the rationale for the length of sentence and whether suddenly this will now be the standard applied to all "well-known public figures".

If the defendants can appeal, they might get it below two years and hence can qualify for a suspended sentence - the sentence range is a "jail sentence of between three months and seven years" although this is up to the court's disrection. Thai Rath reports the Court as saying for those who dislike verdicts, they can appeal (สามารถใช้สิทธิ์อุทธรณ์) and The Manager has a quote from a Thaksin lawyer saying that he has applied for bail for all 3 and they will appeal. The screws tighten.


Template by : kendhin