Kamnan Poh confirms ID in graft case

Somchai Khunploem, aka Kamnan Poh, admitted to the Criminal Court on Friday that he was the defendant in a corruption case involving the 1992 sale of land in a forest reserve in Chon Buri for use as a garbage dump.

Somchai, once dubbed the "godfather of the East," fled in early 2006, shortly before he was sentenced in absentia by the Supreme Court tor five years and four months imprisonment in the corruption case, which involved land at Khao Mai Kaew in Bang Lamung district.

The Criminal Court acted on behalf of the Chon Buri Court in asking Somchai to formally confirm that he was the person named in the case.

The former mayor of Saen Suk municipality was arrested at the Lat Krabang motorway tollgate on Wednesday and quickly committed to Bangkok Remand Prison by the court. On his first night in the prison he was sent to the nearby Medical Correctional Institute, which reported his health had deteriorated.

On Friday, Mr Somchai was driven to the Criminal Court in a van and taken into the courtroom in a wheelchair. The Criminal Court, on behalf of Chon Buri Court, asked whether he was the person wanted under the arrest warrant in the Khao Mai Kaew case or not. He admitted to being the same person named in the warrant.

Mr Somchai was also convicted in March 2012 in absentia by the Supreme Court for masterminding the murder of political rival Prayoon Sitthichoke at a wedding reception in March 2003. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

He was committed to the Bangkok Remand Prison to serve a total sentence of  30 years and four months on two convictions - one for the murder and the other for corruption.

Somchai Khunploem sits in a wheel chair while being taken to the Criminal Court to confirm his involvement on the Khao Mai Kaew land corruption case on Feb 1, 2013. (Photo by Surapol Promsaka na Sakolnakon).

 

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