Criticism, monarchy, and lese majeste torture

29 12 2021

Jatuphat in jail on an earlier 112 charge

Khaosod reports that monarchy-reform protesters Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa and Panupong Jadnok “will no longer apply for bail after repeated refusals to grant them bail while they face multiple lese majeste charges.”

Their attorney, Krisadang Nutcharus said that it is “now be up to the criminal court to consider whether to let the four be released so they could have a fair chance to fight the cases or not.”

Krisadang explained: “The court has the power to end the temporary detention. I will continue to assist [the defendants] but they think the court no longer wants to let them out on bail…”.

The four state that the repeated bail denials means that they are unable to “prepare themselves to fight a fair trial and goes against the international obligations Thailand has to the international community.”

The report quotes former lese majeste political prisoner, Akechai Hongkangwarn. He believes the four now know that:

Penguin during an earlier period in jail. Clipped from Prachatai

they won’t be released before the verdicts are handed [down]. They have requested for bail many times and the repeated denials left them with bitterness. They will probably spend next year in prison if not longer. I understand them and those outside the prison must carry on. If they don’t come out onto the streets, the chance of the four being forgotten would increase…”.

That’s exactly what the regime, palace – with the spendthrift and erratic king back in Thailand – and courts wants: to silence them and to keep them locked up so that the protests lose momentum and leadership. It is also the well-used tactic of keeping those accused of lese majeste locked up until they plead guilty, thus avoiding a proper trial. Several former political prisoners suffered under this neo-feudal system for several years.

Clipped from The Nation

Meanwhile, Thai PBS has a year-ender on criticism of the monarchy and calls for change. It gets some things wrong. For example, it claims: “Before the birth of the youth-led protest movement in 2020, criticism of the monarchy and calls for changes to the institution [monarchy] were only limited to academia.” Only the historically dimwitted could make such a claim. It demeans earlier criticism of the monarchy. Think of some of the red shirts and the students of 1973-76 as two examples. At the same time, it should be noted that academics calling criticizing the monarchy were thin on the ground.

In many ways, as they acknowledge themselves, the current reformers draw on a legacy going back to 1932. And, it is true that this round of questioning the monarchy has meant that the monarchy has been “widely discussed in Thai society.” That’s a real achievement but has come at great cost to the reformers as the lese majeste and other repressive laws have been used and police have attacked and arrested demonstrators (and others).

As the Thai PBS article observes, the judiciary has become crucial in opposing the reformers. Not only does it lock them up, but the “Constitutional Court verdict last month seemed designed to silence the discussion [about the monarchy and reform].”

In a ludicrous verdict, the court ruled that speeches on monarchy reform “amounted to attempts to overthrow the country’s democratic system with the King as head of state.” But the threat of lese majeste charges against those reporting accurately about monarchy and reform has silenced critical voices and made the media compliant. So much so that the mainstream media barely even reports on lese majeste cases.





Another year of repression

27 12 2021

Even with the virus, most people have been celebrating the holidays. But, as Prachatai reports, nothing of the sort is possible for those jailed without bail on lese majeste charges.

Parit Chiwarak, Arnon Nampa, Panupong Jadnok and Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa have again denied bail in an act of lese majeste torture. The four have already spent some 3-4 months in jail pending trial.

Of course, in line with lese majeste torture protocols, the courts are in no hurry to get these political prisoners into a trial.

Clipped from VOA News – a Reuters photo

A bail request was submitted to the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court on 17 December.  As expected from the royalist courts, on 24 December the court “ruled to leave its former order unchanged out of concern that the four, if released, would commit the same offences again.”

The court rejected an undertaking by the “four detainees [who] affirmed that, if released, they would abide by previous Court conditions to not engage in any activities damaging to the monarchy, take part in protests causing public disorder, flee the country, or violate Court-mandated travel restrictions.”

The regime and, we assume, the absent monarch, prefer to keep these young people locked up. They fear the anti-monarchism that has grown and that is (temporarily) repressed.

From Prachatai’s Facebook page

Protesters had gathered at the Court to support the political prisoners. After bail was refused, the protesters “burned a judge uniform and the Criminal Code textbook and sprayed paint all over the Court entrance area.” Meanwhile, “Thatchapong Kaedam, another prominent figure in the protest movement, said that next year, the people will continue to call for change and the intensity of the demonstrations will escalate.”

This is now the normal court contribution to political repression: at least another 16 people “are being detained pending trial or police investigation of their participation in political protests and confrontations with the police over the past year.”

Over the longer period from July 2020 to October 2021, according to the Thai Enquirer, 1,636 people in 896 cases have faced lawsuits for their political participation and expression, including 258 minors.

Of that, 1,337 are being prosecuted for alleged violations of the emergency decree which came into effect in March 2020, 107 are being prosecuted for the alleged violations of the Public Assembly Act, 97 for alleged violations of the Computer Crime Act, 112 for sedition and 154 for lese-majeste.

In addition to the politicized judiciary, the royalist regime has also used violence to repress anti-monarchism. According to a report by the Thai Enquirer, in 2021, more than “500 people were injured from protest-related violence in 2021…”. Dozens of them were children, with one 15 year-old was killed.

Of the total, 347 civilians, including 88 minors were injured. Reflecting the regime’s attempts to also suppress the media, 29 journalists were injured, including several who were targeted with rubber bullets. In addition, three medical volunteers and two bystanders were injured. Many more injuries went unreported.146 police officers  and one soldier were injured.

The police have become especially aggressive, having replaced the military as the frontline troops in repressing protest. Emphasizing this, as Prachatai reports, another “20 protesters and activists have been charged with violation of the Emergency Decree for participating in the 28 November 2021 rally at the Ratchaprasong intersection to call for marriage equality.” They are also charged with obstructing traffic.

LGBTQ protesters are now seen as threatening and in need of repression. Of course, pro-monarchy and pro-regime groups face no such police action,

The activists of the Rainbow Coalition for Marriage Equality say “that the rally was an exercise of their legal rights and freedoms, and that the charges against them amount to a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or SLAPP.”

They add that they are “willing to fight the charges to show that they are free to think and are protected by the civil rights enshrined in the Constitution. They are also considering filing complaints against the officers who file charges against them.”

For a perspective on Thailand’s authoritarianism, see this article.





Precious courts II

23 12 2021

Following the sentencing of a protester for contempt of court, another 5 sentences for the same charge has been made.

Thai PBS reports that:

Clipped from Prachatai

core member of Thailand’s anti-establishment group “Redem”, Jutatip “Ua” Sirikhan , was sentenced to two months in prison today (Wednesday), suspended for two years, by the Criminal Court after she was found guilty of committing contempt during a protest in front of the court on May 2nd.

Four more of the group’s protesters, which is an offshoot of the Ratsadon umbrella group, were also found guilty for their involvement in the protest, which started at the Victory Monument and ended up at the Criminal Court on Ratchadapisek Road in Bangkok.

Different sentences were imposed among the five. The latter four had their prison time “changed to terms of detention, which means that they will have no permanent record of imprisonment.”

The courts continue to target those they see as leaders of anti-establishment movements as they coordinate with police to shut down the protests and silence the protestrs.





Precious courts I

21 12 2021

Prachatai has a report on the judiciary that is worth considering.

Joseph (not his real name) protested the denial of bail for detained activists – some of them held for more than 4 months now. He cut his arm in front of the judge on 11 October 2021 to protest the denial of bail for activists Arnon Nampa and Benja Apan. They are held on lese majeste and other charges.

Now Joseph “has been sentenced to 2 months in prison on a contempt of court charge…”.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) report that Joseph was sentenced by the South Bangkok Criminal Court on 17 December. Because he “confessed and said to the court that his action was symbolic and that he has no intention of hurting anyone, the court reduced his sentence to 1 month in prison and a 250-baht fine. His sentence is also suspended for 6 months.”

Clipped from Prachatai

TLHR calculates “that 26 people have been charged with contempt of court in 16 cases since July 2020. Of these cases, 14 resulted from protests demanding the right to bail for detained activists.”

Joseph is also reportedly:

one of the 13 protesters facing royal defamation and sedition charges under Section 112 [lese majeste] and 116 [sedition] of the Thai Criminal Code, as well as using a sound amplifier without permission under the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act for either reading a statement or giving speeches during the protest in front of the German Embassy in Bangkok on 26 October 2020, in which they submitted a petition calling for the German authorities to investigate King Vajiralongkorn’s use of power during his time in Germany. Joseph is facing charges for reading out a statement in English.





Faking fake news

11 09 2021

The regime’s efforts to stifle dissent and anti-monarchism has long targeted online discussion. Because of the way that international apps and sites work, this now involves loyalist, royalist courts issuing orders under legislation that delineates so-called fake news. This resort to the courts has been a constant since the 2014 military coup, deepening since the rise of student-led protests.

Prachatai, using work by The Reporters, show that “between 16 – 22 August, the MDES [Ministry of Digital Economy and Society] reported that they have found 44 URLs which they claimed to be spreading fake news, and that they are in the process of requesting a court order to block at least 145 URLs.” Of course, this is in additon to hundreds and thousands already blocked.

In this latest bunch, most are Facebook pages. While it is no surprise, many of these pages are by political activists. What is something of a surprise is that well-established online news sites and those of journalists are also being targeted. This suggests a growing appetite to further censor the media. We would guess that the confidence to take such steps is to bolstering the regime’s more aggressive street-level tactics to repress demonstrators.

Among them is Prachatai’s own Thai language Facebook page and the Facebook profile of their reporter Sarayut Tungprasert. Other media included are “Voice TV’s Talking Thailand Facebook page and the Progressive Movement’s Facebook page.” Other pages listed are:

The Facebook pages for academic in exile Pavin Chachavalpongpun, photographer Karnt Thassanaphak, actor and pro-democracy protest supporter Inthira Charoenpura, and activist Parit Chiwarak are all included on the list, as well as the Facebook pages for activist groups Free Youth, United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD), Dome Revolution, and Thalufah. The Facebook group [belong to Pavin] Royalist Marketplace is also listed.

17 Twitter accounts appear, including those of human rights lawyer and activist Anon Nampa, Thalufah and UFTD, as well as @ThePeopleSpaces, an account which often runs discussions relating to politics and the pro-democracy movement on Twitter’s Spaces platform.

Prachatai states that it “does not know which piece of news led to the Facebook page and Sarayut’s Facebook profile being included on the list.”

While the king has not been seen for several weeks – is he in Thailand or holidaying in Germany? – his minions are hard at work erasing anti-monarchism.





Further updated: Royalist courts doing their duty

23 08 2021

Update 1: Apologies. We posted an unedited version earlier. Fixed it now.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reports that on 18 August 2021, lawyers submitted a bail application for the nine activists detained in recent days by the royal police. At least two of the detainees are COVID-19 infected.

Arnon Nampa is detained on another lese majeste charge, while the others – Sam Samat, “Penguin” Parit Chiwarak, “New” Sirichai Natueng, “Fah” Promsorn Viradhammajari, Nutchanon Pairoj, “Mike” Panupong Jadnok, “Boy” Chatchai Kaedam, and Panudda Sirimassakul or “Tong Thalufah” – faced a number of charges: “Section 215 of the Thai Criminal Code, [an] assembl[y] of ten persons [and] upwards, … violation of the Emergency Decree, and the Communicable Disease [decree/act]. Some of them were charged with causing d[amage] and [assaulting police].”

Bail was denied, with the royal courts “citing no reasonable cause to change the order.”

In prior, the lawyer had submitted bail motions on 9 August 2021 after the submission of detention motion made by the inquiry officers. The Court denied bail citing that the alleged offenders had no fear of the law. If they were to be released, they could commit further harmful acts. Therefore, the lawyers appealed the court’s order on 13 August 2021. As a result, “Poon” Thanapat (surname withheld) was released on bail citing that he surrendered himself and just passed the age of minor.

The bail application for the eight activists cited the following:

Prior to the detention on 9 August 2021 according to the warrant issued by the Court, eight alleged offenders were in good health condition. However, during the detention, Parit, Sirichai, and Promsorn were found … to be COVID-19 infected after getting tested on 14 August 2021. In addition, several correctional officers were reported to be infected. Therefore, the detention is unnecessary and causes them vulnerability to be infected without ability to protect their own lives. Although, the alleged offenders were charged with similar allegations to the current case, it remains an allegation made by the inquiry officers. The alleged offenders were not convicted by the court. Therefore, it cannot be concluded that the alleged offenders had no fear of the law and it is not admissible with the reason citing “if they were to be released, they could commit further harmful acts.”

In addition, the reason citing the alleged offenders, which are Parit and Panupong, had breached bail conditions of the other court, therefore, they should not be released on bail in this case, is not admissible. The Court had not examined the alleged offenders for facts and had not given a chance to the alleged offenders to make an objection or show an evidence.

They added that the detainees had not resisted arrest and did not pose a flight risk.

The bail application for Arnon also cited the risk of COVID-19 infection and proposed a 200,000 baht surety.

All applications were dismissed.

That’s how the royalist regime operates.

Update 2: Thai Enquirer reports that Sureerat Chiwarak, mother of jailed activist Parit has “demanded an investigation into the delays in transferring her Covid-19-stricken son and other detained protest leaders to hospital for treatment.” Speaking for other parents, she stated: “We have requested this transfer since August 16, but to no progress…. We are now very concerned and scared, and want to know what happened to those requests.”





Deadly serious III

19 08 2021

The Nation reports that, yesterday, “activists headed to the district court in Thanyaburi, Pathum Thani … to submit bail requests for Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and other Ratsadon members who have picked up Covid-19 in jail.”

The (In)Justice Ministry said “that four protesters had picked up the virus in jail but their condition is fine and they are being given Favipiravir pills for treatment.” In addition to Parit, the Ministy listed them as: Sirichai Nathuang, Promsorn “Fah” Veerathamjaree, and Thanapat Kapeng.

Four other jailed protesters “have tested negative though they are being quarantined…”.

The activists’ mothers – Ratsamoms – joined with others pushing for bail and release from prison for their kids.

In another report, Thawatchai Chaiwat, deputy director-general of the Corrections Department, said that

for three days Parit … coughed and had a headache, body pains and excessive phlegm, but his pulse and oxygen saturation level remained normal. He was breathing normally and was able to sleep and eat.

Sirichai … had headache, body pains, eye pain and fever for three days, but was able to breathe normally. His pulse and oxygen saturation level were also normal, the deputy director-general said, and he could eat and sleep.

Promsorn … suffered from headache, excessive phlegm, fever, fatigue, a sore throat and a cough for three days. He also lost his sense of smell, but his pulse and oxygen saturation level were normal.

Despite these health problems and the Department’s poor reputation for virus mitigation and treatment, the Thanyaburi Court rejected a bail request “for Parit … and seven others charged in connection with a protest in front of the Region 1 Border Patrol Police headquarters in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district on Aug 2.”

As expected the vicious, royalist court saw “no reason to reverse the detention order.”  The courts have a reputation for “teaching lessons” to those charged with lese majeste. Deaths in custody are seen as part of the “lesson.”





Updated: Trampling remaining freedoms III

8 08 2021

The Bangkok Post reports some good news: “The Civil Court on Friday ruled in favour of the media by issuing an injunction suspending Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s regulation restricting freedom of speech and threatening internet censorship.”

There are few good news stories from the judiciary, but this one seems to be in that category, with the court ruling that the new rules “went against the law,” and even issuing an “English-language announcement of its decision.”

It is quoted:

Considering that Section 9 of the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations B.E. 2548 (2005) (No. 29) provides Prime Minister no authorization to suspend internet services provision, Article 2 of the Regulation authorizing the suspension of internet services provision against the Internet Protocol address (IP address) of which the user has disseminated the information not compatible with the Regulation is in contrary to the law….

It is in the view of the Court that, considering the existence of several legal instruments establishing the measures concerning illegal dissemination of information and the government’s capability to educate people, develop a public better understanding and examine false information, the suspension of the enforcement of such Regulation does not pose any obstacle to public administration in emergency situations and public interest….

Update: The bad news is also in the Bangkok Post. It reports that “Thailand has moved into the third-lowest tier in the world for internet freedom, down two steps from the year before, according to Comparitech, a website that focuses on improving cybersecurity and privacy online.”

That rating says that Thailand is a massive “73% restricted,” meaning it ranks on a par with dictatorships and monarchies like “Belarus, Qatar, Syria, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates…”.

Most of Thailand’s score was attributed to the royalist-inspired banning of Pornhub. This is, however, just one element of a broad effort to limit non-official information available on the monarchy.





Threatening Penguin

9 06 2021

To get bail, Penguin – Parit Chiwarak – had to give the court certain undertakings that prevent him from questioning the monarchy and engaging in political protest. The regime and its pliant judiciary considered they have worked a fix that keeps the protesters quiet and compliant.

As would be expected from this repressive regime and its royalist vigilantes, they been patrolling Penguin’s social media.

Thai PBS reports that the “parents of Ratsadon anti-establishment protest leader … Penguin … and a Thammasat University lecturer were warned by the Criminal Court today (Monday) that it may revoke the anti-establishment [anti-monarchy] political activist’s bail if he is found to be in breach of his bail terms.”

They were “summoned as Parit’s caretakers to the Court today for a special hearing over a complaint in which Parit is accused of posting a message on his Facebook page deemed to be a breach of the terms of his release on bail…”.

During the hearing, “caretaker” Dr. Adisorn Juntrasook explained that Parit was “just exercising of his freedom of expression within the terms of the bail.” Parit’s “parents also explained that their son did not do anything which could be considered a breach of the bail terms.” Adisorn promised “to remind Parit to comply strictly with the court’s requirements.”

The court “instructed them to make sure that Parit strictly follows the bail terms and refrains from posting any messages on social media which may constitute a violation, or the court may revoke his bail.”

No anti-regime or anti-monarchy language will be tolerated.





Updated: Judges and Toyota II

1 06 2021

Thailand’s judiciary is rotten. It is politically biased, engages in acts of double standards, and has been shown to be inhumane in its sentencing. Underneath all of this, it is corrupt, long “protected” by is association with the monarchy.

However, a bribery case in the USA and involving Toyota is shining a light on corruption alleged to be at the very top of the judiciary. For an earlier post on this developing case, see here.

About a week ago, Law 360’s Frank G. Runyeon reported that:Law360

“U.S. authorities are ramping up their Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation of Toyota, with federal prosecutors impaneling a grand jury in Texas as they seek any evidence the carmaker bribed top Thai judges to overturn a $350 million tax judgment, according to a U.S. law enforcement official and documents related to the investigation.

Ongoing investigations by both the USA’s Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission are poring over documents from Toyota, which self-reported, an internal company investigation conducted by WilmerHale, presented to American authorities by Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in April 2020.

Toyota suspected senior attorneys working for Toyota Motor Thailand “funneled bribes through a private Thai law firm to Thailand Supreme Court judges in an effort to influence the decision on a still-pending appeal of the tax judgment…”.

The grand jury proceedings are secret, but more details have been released regarding the internal investigation at Toyota:

The internal Toyota investigation found that TMT contracted with Annanon Law Office to help establish a backchannel to Thailand’s highest ranking judge via a former chief judge and an advisor, law enforcement documents show. TMT paid nearly $18 million on the $27 million contract, according to the documents, with $9 million to be paid if Toyota won the appeal, which relates to import taxes on Prius car parts.

Those potentially involved in the alleged bribery are named: “… Annanon law firm, … former Supreme Court of Thailand President Direk Ingkaninan and Supreme Court senior advisor Chaiyasit Trachutham…”. They were “to persuade high court president Slaikate Wattanapan to accept Toyota’s argument and have the court rule in its favor within a year, sometime after Slaikate’s term began in October 2019…”.

Runyeon reports that:

Thai government records indicate that around the time of the alleged bribery scheme Direk was a sitting senior judge and Slaikate was president of the Supreme Court. While the duration of Chaiyasit’s alleged tenure as a high court advisor is unclear, records show he was a senior judge on the Court of Appeal for Specialized Cases until at least October 2019…. Mr. Direk assisted TMT with the Prius case in the Primary Court and has been involved again in the current possible Supreme Court appeal.

Direk, 70, was the top ranking senior judge on the Supreme Court as of May 2020, government records show, and is eligible to serve until he ages out next September. Records show Chaiyasit, 70, reached mandatory retirement age in September 2020 after various judicial posts on Thailand’s appellate and supreme courts. Slaikate, 66, stepped down as Supreme Court president in September 2020, but retained senior judge status.

… The long-serving Toyota attorneys who law enforcement documents claim allegedly organized the scheme — General Manager Wichien Hirunmahapol, his deputy Sathit Tungjitpreechatai and Pornchai Saetachantana — left TMT in the midst of Toyota’s internal corruption probe and opened a boutique law firm, according to online biographies, the firm’s website and sources familiar with that investigation.

… A court official confirmed on Monday that Direk and Slaikate remain sitting senior judges on Thailand’s Supreme Court but did not immediately confirm Chaiyasit’s employment status. He referred Law360 back to an earlier public statement.

Soon after this report was noticed in Thailand, the Bangkok Post reported that the “Thai Court of Justice has vowed to take action against wrongdoers following a report the US Department of Justice is taking the Toyota bribery probe involving three top Thai judges to a grand jury.”

As always happens in such international cases of bribery and corruption, Thai authorities sought “information.”

Usually the “information is delayed, lost, misplaced for long enough that it fades away.

Suriyan Hongwilai, spokesman of the Court of Justice, stated that “if the Court of Justice found or could verify that the bribery had taken place, it would take disciplinary action, regardless of who the wrongdoers were or what positions they held by submitting the finding to the Judicial Commission.” He added that no one should “not to jump to conclusions before the cases were concluded in both countries.”

As we know, even if convicted of a crime in the US, the judges could turn to politics and become ministers.

LaughingAnother Law 360 report follows Suriyan’s media outing, claiming he stated that “[s]ince becoming aware of the matter, the Court of Justice has been trying to follow, verify, and gather all related information and facts both in the country and abroad…”. It seems they found nothing, knew nothing for Suriyan said: “Now that there has been a news report mentioning names and positions of some individuals, the Court of Justice will proceed to verify with the related affiliated agencies.” He added: “Further action would depend on the details of the obtained information…”.

It won’t be just PPT who will find such statements laughable. After all, as another Law 360 report says, it is “[m]ore than six months before Toyota disclosed concerns to U.S. authorities about possible foreign bribery in Thailand…” and two months since it was publicly reported.

Law360 says that the “protocol for the internal [Toyota] investigation was laid out in a 22-page document dated Sept. 30, 2019.” It was that document that “appeared to show that Toyota was concerned about possible corrupt payments to current and former Thailand Supreme Court judges, as well as to the country’s top finance and justice officials.”

It is stated that:

Toyota’s internal investigation focused on whether its employees made payments to any of eight Thai law firms or 12 individuals who may have played a role in the Prius litigation as the company was challenging the tax judgment in Thai courts. In addition to understanding if and how payments were made, the probe sought to confirm the amounts and whether any such payments were hidden, made indirectly, diverted to others, or “used or intended to be used for an improper purpose, and in particular, to influence the outcome of the Prius case.”

Another key question for reviewers was whether the recipients of any such payments had any connection to, influence over, or ex parte contact with sitting Thailand Supreme Court judges who might rule on Toyota’s case. WilmerHale also asked its team to flag any evidence that Toyota Motor Corp., the global parent company, knew about any “potentially improper payments to consultants.”

The response from the named judges began with threats of defamation cases. The aim was to keep their names out of reports in Thailand, including on social media. Isra News Agency reported:

that three Thai judges mentioned in a Law360 article about the possible bribery would ask the Court of Justice … to file a computer crime complaint with police to take legal action against those who mentioned them by name or shared such news on social media.

Thai PBS reports that “[f]ormer president of Thailand’s Appeals Court, Professor Chaiyasit Trachutham, has categorically denied allegations, reported by Law360, that he was among three senior judges implicated in Toyota Motors Thailand’s (TMT) bribery scandal.” He added that:

he was directly involved in the legal dispute between TMT and the Thai Customs Department, over import taxes on Toyota Prius hybrid cars,when he was a senior judge at the Appeals Court and was responsible for handling 10 case files…. After having carefully studied the case, he said that he felt that TMT had only a slim chance of winning the case….

The Bangkok Post reports that the Court of Justice moved a little further, and “has set up a 10-member panel to follow up on the Toyota bribery scandal…”. It was set up last Friday. So what the judiciary was doing before probably amounted to a hope that the story could be kept quiet.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reported that “Salaikate Wattanaphan, former president of the Supreme Court, has [also] denied any involvement in the bribery case…”. He “insisted that since he wasn’t in a position to make any decisions on Toyota’s appeal against the Appeal Court’s ruling in the tax dispute case, it is impossible that he would be offered as much money as claimed.”

Salaikate said “he was president of the court back then but wasn’t directly involved in the decision.”He reckons “… accusations that senior judges were paid US$19 million and later US$27 million were sketchy … who would ever be silly enough to pay that much money to them while not knowing how the decision [on the appeal] would turn…”. It seems he’s semi-serious in this observation.

Meanwhile, cases against those mentioning the report and judges are moving faster than any investigation of the bribery allegations.

Update: How fast can a judge move when named in a corruption case? In the kill-the-messenger sprint, it is with Olympic record speed. The Bangkok Post reports that former Supreme Court president Direk Inkhaninan and Chaisit Trachutham, a former senior judge in the Appeal Court, have already “filed a complaint with the Crime Suppression Division against Law360, a US-based legal news website, for defamation.”








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