Ex-deputy commerce minister sentenced to death for kidnap and murder
Thailand’s Appeals Court has decided to change the life sentence passed on former deputy commerce minister Banyin Tangpakorn to execution for the kidnap and murder of the elder brother of a senior judge in charge of a share theft case against him.
Four other co-defendants involved in the kidnap and murder of Veerachai Sakuntaprasert, brother of Judge Panida, were each sentenced to life in prison.
All five, including Banyin, were accused of abducting Veerachai from the court and holding him as hostage, as they allegedly negotiated with the judge, Panida, to acquit Banyin of charges of conspiring with others to steal shares worth several hundreds of millions of baht from a billionaire contractor, Chuwong sae Tang. The incident took place in 2020
Chuwong was found dead in a car, driven by Banyin, after it hit a roadside tree in Suan Luang district of Bangkok on June 26th, 2015. The autopsy shows that Chuwong sustained broken ribs and other wounds inconsistent with injuries caused by a car crash.
Banyin and five other men were arrested in connection with the death of Veerachai, whose body was later found dumped in a river in Nakhon Sawan province. In this case, Banyin had his death sentence commuted to life because he had confessed. He was also sentenced to eight years for forgery over the share theft case.
The public prosecutors and the judge, Panida, however, appealed against the Criminal Court’s life sentence imposed on Banyin.
The Appeals Court overruled the lower court’s decision to commute death sentence to life for Banyin on the grounds that the accused deliberately killed the victim to conceal the other offences and to avoid punishment.
The court said that the crime committed by the accused was serious and poses a grave threat to society and the justice system, citing the fact that he used to be a police officer and a government minister.
It also said that Banyin’s confession to the court was not useful to the trial of the case and, hence, it did not justify commuting the death sentence to life in prison.
Banyin and the other co-defendants still have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court.