Military digs a bigger hole

Military digs a bigger hole

A middleman in the purchase of the militarily useless, strategically harmful "black box hardware" for the army has been sentenced, twice, to a prison term of 19 years. Ex-businessman Sutthiwat Wannakij was convicted by the Don Muang district court for his part in the purchase of the fake bomb detectors known as GT200. The military men involved in this shameful saga more than 10 years ago have never been brought to justice. They include several of those in high positions in the military regime and National Council for Peace and Order.

Sutthiwat ran a small (just two employees) business called AVA Satcom Co Ltd. With advice, encouragement and indeed the promise of profits, he purchased the fake bomb detectors from the Comstrac Co of Britain and its fraudster owner, James McCormick. UK justice took care of that end of the deal -- McCormick was convicted of fraud. But the Thai part in the purchase of the fake devices has lingered.

The two convictions of Sutthiwat in a week have renewed interest, and that is a good thing. Sutthiwat's lawyer said he would appeal both cases on a single, main point. He claims that Sutthiwat only imported the GT200 "dowsing rod" boxes because the army told him to do so. Credibly he claims army officers approached his client with instructions, and specific specifications to buy, import and resell the items to the army.

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