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Fugitive politician's absence in court will cost daughter Bt15m

The daughter of influential businessman and fugitive local politician Somchai Khunpluem who has been on the run from two convictions sentencing him to more than 30 years' jail, was yesterday ordered to pay Bt15 million for the father's failure to attend the reading of his final verdict.



The Criminal Court judges told Jiraphorn that the four doctors' certificates issued five years ago submitted by her, claiming her father suffered from numerous illnesses, were not new and not enough to justify her request to postpone yesterday's session to next year.

The court ordered Jiraphorn to pay Bt15 million, or her assets worth Bt15 million that she had posted as Somchai's bail, would be seized.

The judges, who were supposed to read out a Supreme Court decision on his conviction for ordering the murder of a fellow kamnan based in Chon Buri's Muang district on March 9, 2003, granted the request from a co-defendant - Phassakorn Hommual - to postpone the session. Phassakorn had submitted a document explaining the reasons why he was unable to attend yesterday's session.

Phassakorn is a member of the Muang Saen Suk assembly, which issued the document affirming that Phassakorn was on a flood-relief assignment from November 25 until tomorrow and could not attend yesterday's session.

He and Somchai, better known as Kamnan Poh, are both based in Saen Suk.

The session was rescheduled to 9am on January 24 for both Somchai and Phassakorn to hear the final verdict on charges of being behind Prayoon Sitthichote's death.

Both Somchai and Phassakorn were found guilty of being behind Prayoon's death and sentenced to 25 years each in June 2004 by the lower court and Appeals Court.

Somchai has also been convicted of land-purchase fraud in connection with the construction of a garbage dump and sentenced to five years and four months in prison.


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