Further updated: More on the plane saga

17 07 2011

Updated post (and another below): As PPT reported earlier, the German court rejected the initial plea of the Thai government that the seized Boeing 737 is a private aircraft belonging to Prince Vajiralongkorn. This is becoming a rather big issue in Thailand, where news bulletins have provided considerable coverage.

In The Nation, it is reported that “Judge Christoph Fellner said the court was not fully convinced the plane was HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn’s personal property as asserted by the lawyer for Thailand.”

That report goes on to say that the “Royal Thai Air Force yesterday confirmed the Thai government’s contention that the RTAF in 2007 presented the Boeing 737 jet to the Prince for his personal use, RTAF spokesman Air Vice Marshal Monthon Satchukorn said.”

This is an interesting contention: the RTAF has given away the expensive plane to someone it now claims is a private citizen. But then this:

The RTAF “asserts that the plane in question does not belong to the government because it was presented for royal use.”

Let’s get this straight, being a jet for royal use makes it private, even when the Thai taxpayer bought it? It was a gift?

And, conveniently, there is now claimed to be an “official document to prove the presentation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked for that document to be presented to the German authorities and the RTAF has supplied that document…”.

We doubt whether the Germans will understand the legal slipperiness that is going on here. Frankly, we doubt that many Thais will comprehend it. PPT thinks we explained it in an earlier post. However, we have little doubt that the jet is truly private as the government must be paying all its fees.

In the report, acting premier Abhisit Vejjajiva reckons that the Germans are using web-based documentation for the plane that hasn’t been updated. No doubt the RTAF and other government agencies are making sure they have the “right” story posted also.

The impounded 737 (BBC photo)

Meanwhile, to add to the expense, as well as Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya in Munich and Berlin, the prime minister “instructed Civil Aviation Department director-general Wuthichai Singhamanee to travel to Munich to assist Attorney-General Jullasingh Vasantasingh in the case.”

Update 2: Thanks to a reader for this information:

Kasit said he had placed Schneider on the “persona non grata” list banning him from entering Thailand.

And this: “We got this impounding order based on an excerpt from an aviation registry saying that the plane belonged to the government,” he said. “The court viewed those documents as being valid.”

And for the response in Bangkok: “The Crown Prince is livid and has filed complaint with a Bavarian court, claiming that the machine (which he pilots himself more often than not) is his private property. Bangkok’s ambassador in Berlin has virtually taken up residence in Chancellor Merkel’s office to pound home the government’s message that the machine is privately owned by the Crown Prince and that a diplomatic solecism is being perpetrated.”

“Bavarian officials and the administrators meanwhile hold to their interpretation that the machine is owned by the Thai government and factually on permanent loan to the Crown Prince.”




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23 07 2011
Stranger and stranger on the plane | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Boeing 737 saga that began with the seizure of the aircraft several days ago (see here, here, here, here, here, here and here) and the Thai government’s sustained claim that the plane belongs to Prince […]

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