NACC seeks to overturn Suthep graft acquittal

NACC seeks to overturn Suthep graft acquittal

Suthep Thaugsuban (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
Suthep Thaugsuban (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will appeal a court ruling acquitting former protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban of corruption in projects to construct police stations and living quarters while he was deputy prime minister more than a decade ago.

NACC chairman Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit said on Friday the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions has given the NACC until Dec 18 to lodge an appeal.

The anti-graft agency will meet on Tuesday to study evidence and the court's ruling before proceeding with an appeal,'' Pol Gen Watcharapol said.

"The NACC is confident that it has sufficient evidence pointing to the alleged offences. Someone must be held responsible because damage has been done,'' he said.

On Sept 20, the court acquitted Mr Suthep and five co-defendants in the case -- three senior police officers, a construction company and its managing director.

The projects were approved during the administration of then-prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, when Mr Suthep was a deputy prime minister.

The NACC filed the case with the court, alleging malfeasance and price collusion in government projects from June 2009 to April 2013.

One project relates to the construction of 396 police stations, worth 5.84 billion baht, which was endorsed by Mr Abhisit's cabinet.

Many of the police stations were left unfinished when the contractor, which was managing a number of construction sites at the same time, allegedly dumped the project.

The NACC also found grounds for allegations relating to the building of 163 blocks of police flats which had been proposed along with the police station project. The same firm was contracted to build the flats, which also suffered delays.

Mr Suthep and Pol Gen Pateep Tanprasert, the former acting national police chief, were accused of wrongfully combining all the regional construction contracts into one.

The contract was then awarded at an unusually low price to a single contractor, PCC Development & Construction Co.

The court found the Royal Thai Police had the authority to decide how it would award the construction contract and Mr Suthep could not be held responsible for any malfeasance.


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