Ex-TAT chief, daughter plead innocent over film-fest bribery

Ex-TAT chief, daughter plead innocent over film-fest bribery

Former TAT governor Juthamas Siriwan entered an innocent plea in the Criminal Court on Monday. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Former TAT governor Juthamas Siriwan entered an innocent plea in the Criminal Court on Monday. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Former Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Juthamas Siriwan and her daughter on Monday plead innocent at the Criminal Court to bribery charges in the Bangkok International Film Festival scandal.

Mrs Juthamas, 68, and Ms Jittisopha, 41, are accused of taking 60 million baht in kickbacks from a Los Angeles film-making couple, Gerald and Patricia Green, in exchange for a contract to run the festival between 2002 and 2007.

The Greens were each sentenced to six months in jail and six months home confinement by a US federal judge in Los Angeles in August 2010. Mr Green, 78, and Mrs Green, 53, were also ordered to each pay $250,000 in restitution. 

Thai prosecutors indicted Mrs Juthamas and her daughter on Aug 25 on charges of taking bribes, malfeasance and bid-rigging, plus breaching laws governing offences committed by state officials, and tenders to state agencies. The pair was released on bail for 1 million baht each.

Mrs Juthamas and her daughter denied the charges and said they would fight the case.

After examining lists of evidence and witnesses, the court decided to allow 25 prosecution witnesses but criticised defence lawyer Thanakorn Wakwaree for failing to complete the submission of documentary evidence and a witness list by today's deadline.

Mr Thanakorn claimed some documentation was in English and required translation while other pieces were in the possession of other people. He asked the court to issue summonses demanding temporary use of such documents.

The court said the defendants had been aware of the indictment but did not prepare evidence in time despite having more than two months since being granted bail. The court questioned whether the defendants were trying to delay the trial.

The judge said the charges carried high penalties, so the defendants should be allowed to fight the case to the best of their abilities.

The court set Jan 19 for the second examination of evidence and witnesses, but warned if the defendants failed to meet the submission criteria again the court would conclude they did not want any witnesses to testify on their behalf.

The court also set Feb 1 for the start of the trial.

The US also charged Mrs Juthamas and Mrs Jittisopa Siriwan with one count of conspiracy, seven counts of transporting funds to promote unlawful activity (bribery), and one count of aiding and abetting. If convicted, they each face up to 20 years in prison.


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