Jailed for palace chilli fraud and the wrong connection

2 02 2015

Sudathip Muangnual was charged with lese majeste on 10 December 2014. She was convicted and sentenced on 2 February 2015 and sentenced to 5 years, reduced to 2.5 for a guilty plea.

Sudathip, the wife of Police Colonel Kowit Muangnual, a former Samut Sakhon Immigration Police chief, who is allegedly part of a criminal network led by former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayapan, Princess Srirasmi’s uncle. Khaosod reports that she was thesister-in-law of Thailand’s Crown Prince.”

Sudathip was first arrested late in November 2014, but not charged with lese majeste and she was released on bail on 24 November 2014.

With “new evidence,” it is reported that police stormed a house and detained Ms Sudathip for questioning. She is accused of citing the monarchy – probably the prince and princess – to help her win a contract to supply food to an unnamed “establishment.” People affected by Sudathip’s alleged misconduct lodged complaints with Sam Sen police station.

A later report revealed that the “establishment” was, in fact, the prince’s household. It was stated that Royal Household Bureau filed the complaint against her, with court documents stating that Sudathip won the contract to supply the prince’s palace kitchen with chili paste that costs 300 baht per kilogram, claimed to be double the average market price and “boiled cabbage that costs 90 baht per kilogram…”. The Royal Household Bureau stated that Sudathip won the contract to supply the palace with food products by using her connections to the royal family to pressure other competitors to drop out of contract bid.

It seems lese majeste can now be used to resolve disputes with suppliers. Yet it is the failed relationship between the prince and his wife that caused the charge to be laid.

The court brief stated:

The remarks of the defendant were slanderous, laying false claims to and insulting the monarchy…. She violated, made false accusations toward, and caused damages to the Royal Majesty.

This is nonsensical stuff, but protecting “majesty”also involves assisting the prince ditch a third wife. Some in the palace will be pleased, but this verdict is just another nail in the majesty coffin.

PPT thinks there may be 10-12 lese majeste cases emanating from the seemingly family-based purge of persons associated with Prince Vajiralongkorn’s estranged and/or divorced third wife and her family, relatives and associated hangers-on.





Updated: The prince’s lese majeste cases

28 12 2014

The number of lese majeste cases associated with Prince Vajiralongkorn’s purge of his third wife and her family have piled up.

So far, PPT has listed cases against Chakarn Phakphoom, Nopporn Suppipat, Nuttapong Suwadee (former Princess Srirasmi’s brother) and Sudathip Muangnual. This does not include Chainarin Nopchaloemroj and 13 others who seem involved in a related purge.

Following a report in the Bangkok Post, we are listing six more.

The first is former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayapan. There’s been plenty of media attention to Pongpat, who is former Princess Srirasmi’s uncle.

The other five “suspects,” accused of lese majeste and sundry other crimes are Pongpat’s deputy Pol Maj Gen Kowit Wongrungroj,former chief of the Marine Police Division Pol Maj Gen Boonsueb Phraithuean, former chief of the Anti-Human Trafficking Sub-Division 4 Pol Col Wuthichat Liansukhon, Pol Snr Sgt Maj Surasak Channgao and Pol Snr Sgt Maj Chattrin Laothong.

So far it seems that 24 persons have been ousted in what looks like a succession purge.

Update: PPT has completed a listing of English-language news reports on these cases. Most are listed at Pongpat’s page. If we have missed anything important, let us know by email.





The palace, lese majeste and the prince’s business

15 12 2014

A few days ago PPT commented on a new lese majeste case against Sudathip Muangnual. In that post it was stated that Sudathip was first arrested late in November, but was not charged with lese majeste then. Later, with “new evidence,” it was reported that police detained Sudathip for questioning and accused her “of citing the royal institution to help her win a contract to supply food for an establishment. People affected by Ms Sudathip’s alleged misconduct lodged complaints with Sam Sen police station…”.

The bit about “an establishment” seemed odd at the time. It is now clear why. Khaosod reports that the lese majeste police are “looking for more suspects who allegedly cited connections with the palace to discourage other business owners from supplying the Thai Royal Family with food products.”

It is now stated that Sudathip “was arrested on 10 December after the Royal Household Bureau filed a complaint accusing her of selling overpriced products to the palace of Thailand’s Crown Prince.”

A couple of points to be made here. First, the Royal Household Bureau has made the complaint that seems to have led to a lese majeste charge. Second, it seems the Royal Household Bureau and those in the prince’s household don’t know reasonable prices for food.

On the second point, according to court documents, “Sudathip won the contract to supply the Crown Prince’s palace kitchen staff with chili paste that costs 300 baht per kilogram – twice the average price in Thai markets – and boiled cabbage that costs 90 baht per kilogram…”.

Does anyone believe this nonsense?

According to the complaint made by Royal Household Bureau, “Sudathip won the rights to supply the palace with food products by pressuring other business owners to drop out of the contract bid by citing her ties to the Royal Family.” She did indeed have “ties,” via the family of then third wife to the prince, and when she was royal wife, this was okay. Now the prince is house cleaning. No doubt the hangers-on for the new wife will get the spoils.

That anyone should get up to 15 years in prison for standard practice in royal circles in bizarre.

As in most lese majeste cases, Sudathip has been denied release on bail.





More princely lese majeste

11 12 2014

PPT thinks there may be 10-12 lese majeste cases emanating from the seemingly family-based purge of persons associated with Prince Vajiralongkorn’s estranged wife and her family, relatives and associated hangers-on. We are struggling to keep up with them and to list them all.

The latest report of yet another lese majeste charge involves Sudathip Muangnual, said to be the wife of Police Colonel Kowit Muangnual, a former Samut Sakhon Immigration Police chief, who is allegedly part of a criminal network led by former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayapan, Princess Srirasmi‘s uncle.

Police arrested Sudathip on a lese majeste charge on 10 December and added this charge to others of public land encroachment.

Sudathip was first arrested late in November, but was not charged with lese majeste and was released on bail on 24 November. With “new evidence,” it is reported that “police stormed a house on Soi Thawi Watthana where they detained Ms Sudathip for questioning…”. She is “accused of citing the royal institution to help her win a contract to supply food for an establishment. People affected by Ms Sudathip’s alleged misconduct lodged complaints with Sam Sen police station…”.

Lese majeste is such a convenient charge to use against political and business enemies. Feudal laws really can be made modern again under royalist regimes and when the royal family is sorting out its laundry.