Banyin pleads not guilty to abduction-murder of judge's brother

Banyin pleads not guilty to abduction-murder of judge's brother

Former deputy commerce minister Banyin Tangpakorn in police custody after being arrested for the murder of the judge's brother in February. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Former deputy commerce minister Banyin Tangpakorn in police custody after being arrested for the murder of the judge's brother in February. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Former deputy commerce minister Banyin Tangpakorn and four co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to the abduction and murder of the elder brother of the judge handling his multi-million-baht stock theft case.

They entered their pleas via video conference from behind bars during their arraignment in the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases on Friday.

The six accused in the case are being detained at Bangkok Remand Prison, including Banyin, 56. They face charges relating to the death of Weerachai Sakuntaprasoet, 67, early this year.

In February, prosecutors charged each of them with premeditated murder, fatal detention, coercing others, illegal assembly and concealing a body.

The other defendants are Manat Thaptim, 67, Narongsak Pomchan, 48, Chatchai Menkun, 31, Prachawit Sithongsuk, 33, and Pol Snr Sgt Maj Thongchai Wachisatcha, 63. All are natives of Nakhon Sawan province.

Five of the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges. Mr Narongsak pleaded guilty. The court adjourned the hearing until next month, when evidence and witness lists will be considered. 

Banyin and his five co-defendants allegedly abducted and ultimately murdered the elder brother of Bangkok South Criminal Court judge Phanida Sakuntaprasoet, to pressure her to drop charges in a 300-million-baht stock fraud case against Banyin.

Weerachai was kidnapped outside the court on Feb 4 and bundled into a van. He is believed to have been killed on or about Feb 5. The victim's body was burnt and the remains tossed into the Chao Phraya River in Nakhon Sawan.

Banyin is additionally charged with illegally wearing a police uniform during the abduction.

Banyin was subsequently found guilty of forging documents to set up the transfer of 300 million baht's worth of shares owned by his 50-year-old new​ friend, construction tycoon Chuwong sae Tang, to himself and two accomplices.

Banyin has also been charged with murdering Chuwong in 2015.

He was deputy commerce minister in the short-lived Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat governments in 2008.


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