Ex-prosecutors face bribe charge in Phuket case

Ex-prosecutors face bribe charge in Phuket case

Two former public prosecutors based in Phuket have been indicted in connection with demanding a bribe from a private company accused of encroaching on a national park, according to the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG).

The OAG said in a statement that the attorney-general had decided to indict prosecutors Thamma Sornchai and Wanchat Choonhathanom.

Mr Thamma was accused of demanding a bribe from a company run by a foreign national, sought for prosecution for encroaching on and grabbing land in Sirinart National Park in Thalang district of Phuket. The case reached the prosecutor in 2019.

The prosecutors allegedly sought a bribe worth 10 million baht between them, with Mr Wanchat acting as Mr Thamma's accomplice.

According to the OAG, the attorney-general has assigned the provincial prosecutor's office to take legal action against the pair. The alleged bribe was demanded with a promise to the company that the case would be dropped and the provincial governor would not seek to reverse the decision.

A complaint was later raised against the prosecutors, prompting the OAG to order a probe which ruled the allegation had grounds. A formal investigation was then set up while at the same time the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) launched a separate probe into the matter.

According to the OAG, the prose- cutor's investigation confirmed the alleged bribery demand had taken place and ordered one prosecutor to be dismissed and the other transferred from Phuket. It is understood that Mr Thamma had lost his job and Mr Wanchat faced the transfer.

Later, the NACC probe also found grounds for the allegation and recommended the OAG indict the pair.

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