Royal pardons will mean early release for jailed TV news anchor Sorrayuth Suthassanachinda and red-shirt co-leader Nattawut Saikuar, and a reduced prison term for former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom.
The Royal Gazette on Friday published a royal decree announcing pardons this year for about 30,000 prisoners, and sentence reductions for another 200,000 prisoners, to mark Father's Day on Dec 5, which was the late King Bhumibol's birthday.
A source at the Corrections Department said the prisoners who will benefit include Nattawut, co-leader of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and a former deputy commerce and agriculture minister, who was sentenced to 2 years and eight months in jail for leading a violent protest 13 years ago outside the residence of late Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda.
He will be released before the New Year, the source said.
However, the red-shirt leader may be sent back to prison after his release. He faces charges in other cases being investigated by Crime Suppression Division police.
On June 20 this year, the Supreme Court upheld prison sentences given to UDD leaders Nattawut, Veerakarn Musigapong, Vipoothalaeng Pattanapoomthai and Weng Tojirakarn.
The Appeal Court had previously sentenced each of them to two years and eight months in jail. (continues below)
Nattawut Saikuar, left, and Veerakarn Musigapong are taken to Bangkok Remand Prison after hearing the Supreme Court’s ruling on June 26 this year. (File photo)
Sorrayuth, 53, lost his final appeal and the Supreme Court sent him to prison for eight years on Jan 21 this year in the MCOT advertising revenue embezzlement case.
In August, the former TV news anchor had his jail term reduced. His jail term will be further reduced under the royal pardon. In March next year, he will be released from jail, the source said.
He was found guilty of conspiring with a government official who did not report extra commercials in Sorrayuth's news programme on the state-run MCOT TV channel from Feb 4, 2005 to April 28, 2006. This cost MCOT 138 million baht, its contractual share of the revenue.
Boonsong, who was sentenced to 48 years in prison for his role in fake government-to-government (G2G) sales under the rice-pledging scheme of the former Yingluck Shinawatra government. His jail term will be reduced, the source said, but did not say by how much.
Former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom (File photo)