23 May 2024

Thailand’s Supreme Court Criminal Division for Political Office Holders found former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban not guilty today (Tuesday) of corruption in connection with the Royal Thai Police’s project for the construction of 396 police stations across the country.

Besides Suthep, the other five defendants charged by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) with similar offences and acquitted by the Supreme Court are former acting national police chief Pol Gen Pateep Tanprasert, Pol Maj-Gen Satja Kotehirun, Pol Lt-Col Suriya Jangsuwan, PCC Development and Construction Company Limited, the project builder, and one of its executives, Wisanu Wisetsing.

According to the NACC’s charge sheet, the case dates back to 2009, when Suthep, then deputy prime minister in the government of Prime Minister According Abhisit Vejjajiva and Pol Gen Pateep, changed the procurement contracts by combining them into a single contract and PCC Development and Construction Company won the contract.

The two other police officers, Satja and Suriya, in their capacities as members of the bidding committee, were charged with failing to perform their duty properly, whereas the construction firm was charged with failing to complete the construction project within the contractual deadline.

The NACC spent about seven years investigating the case and submitted its findings to the public prosecutors, with a recommendation that all six accused should be indicted. Prosecutors, however, disagreed with the NACC, forcing the latter to take the case to the court instead.

The Supreme Court ruled that Suthep, who then oversaw the Royal Thai Police, had the authority to stage an e-auction to cover all the police stations in one single contract, without having to seek approval from the cabinet, whereas Pol Gen Pateep, then the acting police chief, also had the authority to exercise his discretion by using the procurement method that he saw fit for the project.

Both of them were, hence, found not guilty of malfeasance in office, as charged by the NACC. , The court also found the three other defendants not guilty as charged.

After the court’s verdict, Suthep told the media that this case should serve a reminder to all people who have good intentions towards the country that they will be protected by a “divine” power.

He said that, for the past several years, he had been ridiculed as a corrupt politician, but that he had exercised extreme patience and fought the case with honesty.

Before entering the courtroom this morning, Suthep told the media that today is one of the most important days of his life, because his reputation had been tarnished by this case for years.