Thailand

Watana sentenced to 99 years in jail, allowed bail

Watana sentenced to 99 years in jail, allowed bail

Watana Muangsook talks to reporters after the court ruling on Thursday. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
Watana Muangsook talks to reporters after the court ruling on Thursday. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions has sentenced former social development and human security minister Watana Muangsook to 99 years in jail for demanding bribes in a low-cost housing project.

He was later allowed bail on a surety of 10 million baht on the condition he must not go abroad without court approval.

If convicted after the appeal, the key member of the Pheu Thai Party will serve 50 years, the longest possible prison term under Thai law.

The court found Watana guilty of demanding bribes from a multi-billion-baht Eua Arthorn housing project initiated by the National Housing Authority, an organisation under the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

He was found guilty of 11 counts, which carried a jail term of nine years each.

There were 14 defendants in the case. 

The case was among several handled by the Asset Scrutiny Committee set up after the 2006 coup. It was picked up after the 2014 coup by the NACC, which decided the case had ground. Prosecutors later charged Mr Watana with soliciting and accepting bribes while being a state official.

Mr Watana and nine others were accused of demanding kickbacks from developers who built houses for the low-cost housing project. 

Watana posted on Facebook his was the first case with the maximum 50-year jail term that was allowed bail. He added he was preparing to go to Parliament to follow the vote on six constitution amendment bills.

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