Boonsong in jail after bail denied
Former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and other defendants who were found guilty in the fake rice deal case were kept in custody at Bangkok Remand Prison on Friday after the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions threw out their bail request.
Following the ruling, which found 17 people, including Boonsong, guilty for their role in the fake government-to-government (G-to-G) rice scheme, defence lawyer Narin Somnuek submitted a request seeking the release of his client pending an appeal against the court's ruling.
He said the court dismissed the application for all the defendants because it was lodged at short notice, noting that the defence team would discuss when to reapply for bail.
All those convicted were taken to Bangkok Remand Prison in Chatuchak district yesterday pending the court's decision on their bail request. With their bail rejected, they remained in custody at the facility.
Mr Narin said the defence team would appeal the ruling as allowed by the new constitution but declined to discuss the details. An appeal must be lodged within 30 days of the ruling.
The lawyer said he spoke to Boonsong who told him to proceed in line with the law.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court found Boonsong, his former deputy Poom Sarapol, and 15 others including former government officials guilty of various charges in the G-to-G rice deals.
The court ruled that the rice contracts in question were not G-to-G agreements but involved sales of the pledged rice to private companies that sold them to a foreign country.
According to the court, the sales did not meet the criteria for G-to-G deals and the rice was not shipped to China as claimed by the defendants.
Boonsong and Phum were found guilty of violating the 1999 act on price offering with state agencies, known as the anti-price collusion law, and other laws in the G-to-G rice contracts.
The other key figures found guilty included Manas Soiploy, former chief of the Foreign Trade Department, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison; his deputy Tikhumporn Natvaratat who received 32 years; and Akharapong Theepwatchara, ex-director of the department's Rice Trade Administration Bureau, who was given a prison sentence of 24 years.
Prominent rice trader Apichart Chansakulporn, of Siam Indica Co Ltd, was sentenced to 48 years in prison for assisting state authorities in price collusion.
Along with his company, he was ordered to pay 16.9 billion baht in damages to the Finance Ministry.
The court also issued a warrant for the arrest of his daughter, Thanyaporn, who was a no-show for the ruling, and seized her surety. She and her company were ordered to pay a fine of 1.294 billion baht.
The other defendants also got jail terms and had to pay damages in proportion to the damage caused to the country.
Eight defendants were acquitted and were mostly rice millers accused of aiding Boonsong and associates to commit offences in relation to the release of pledged rice under the G-to-G scheme.
The court cited insufficient evidence in dismissing the charges against them.
Deputy Attorney-General Chutichai Sakakorn, a chief prosecutor in the case, said after the rice trial ruling yesterday that the prosecution did not oppose the defendants' bail application.
However, he said the prosecution was likely to appeal the court's acquittal of the eight defendants as well as the amount of compensation the court demanded, which was lower than what the prosecution had sought.