New evidence submitted in push to clear Vatana

New evidence submitted in push to clear Vatana

Vatana Asavahame (file photo)
Vatana Asavahame (file photo)

Firebrand activist Srisuwan Janya has submitted new evidence related to a case in which former deputy interior minister Vatana Asavahame was sentenced by the Supreme Court in 2008 for abuse of power in a case linked with the Klong Dan wastewater treatment scandal.

Mr Srisuwan, a well-known corruption watchdog who now serves as a lawyer representing Vatana, gave the evidence to a Justice Ministry committee on Tuesday.

He said he hoped the evidence will convince the committee to reopen an investigation into the case against Vatana.

Mr Srisuwan said the committee will have 60 days to examine the evidence and decide whether to reopen the probe.

If the committee chaired by permanent secretary for justice Wisit Wisitsora-at decides to reopen the probe, Vatana will return to Thailand to prove his innocence in court and seek bail, Mr Srisuwan said, adding that he is confident the evidence will prove to be sufficient.

Mr Srisuwan previously said Vatana's plan to return came after the National Anti-Corruption Commission informed him on April 15 that they had found no evidence which proves that Vatana -- then a deputy interior minister -- used his position to pressure local councillors to approve the construction of the now-cancelled Klong Dan wastewater treatment plant.

Mr Srisuwan, secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution, said he had been told by Vatana's family that Vatana, now 88, misses his family as he had been travelling back and forth between Hong Kong and Cambodia.

In 2008, Vatana was sentenced in absentia by the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions to 10 years in prison for forcing a number of administrative officials at Bang Phli district's land office to illegally issue land title deeds under his name.

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