11 July 2024

The former director of a kindergarten, in Thailand’s southern province of Surat Thani, has been sentenced to 192 years in prison, without suspension, for cheating children out of their free lunch funding, by providing them with just rice noodles and fish sauce.

The court found Somchao Sitthichen, former director of Ban Tha Mai School in Tha Chana District guilty on 77 counts of fraud and sentenced him to five years on each count, or 385 years in total.

Due to his confession, however, the sentence was commuted to 192 years and six months.  Nonetheless, according to the Criminal Code, the maximum imprisonment permissible by law is 50 years.

The court did not suspend the sentence on the grounds that each of his offences, which carry light sentences, is considered serious because, collectively, they have deprived children of nutrition, which may have long-term impacts on their physical development.