Chuvit gets 5 years in beer bar case

Chuvit Kamolvisit, the leader of Rak Thailand Party, was sentenced to five years in jail without suspension by the Appeals Court on Tuesday, overriding the lower court's decision acquitting him in the 2003 Sukhumvit Square beer bar demolition case.

In this case, Mr Chuvit and his associates were accused of intruding into and damaging other people's property at night, and also forcefully detaining another person on Jan 26, 2003.

The owners of 135 retail shops in the six-rai Sukhumvit Square beer bar compound on the corner of Sukhumvit Soi 10 which was demolished that night, filed a complaint against Mr Chuvit and his associates. The prosecution filed suit on March 13, 2003. All pleaded not guilty.

Rak Thailand Party leader Chuvit Kamolvisit (Photo by Kosol Nakachol)

In addition to Mr Chuvit, the defendants included Lt-Col Himalai Phiewphan and Major Thanyathep Thammathorn, then staff officers attached to the Supreme Command.

On Oct 13, 2006, the South Bangkok Criminal Court acquitted Mr Chuvit and all but one of his 130 associates in the case.

Only Chanvet Malaibucha, the 49th defendant, was sentenced to eight months in jail.

The prosecution appealed.

The Appeals Court today changed the lower court's decision, sentencing 64 defendants to jail terms ranging from five years to three years and 10 months without suspension.

Sixty-seven other defendants remain acquitted.

The jail term handed down on Mr Chuvit, Mr Chanvet, Lt-Col Himalai and Maj Thanyathep is five years each. 

Following the verdict Mr Chuvit remains temporarily free without bail since he is an MP and the House is in session.  Mr Chuvit, who was accompanied to the court by his wife, said he would fight his case all the way to the Supreme Court.

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