Jailed Sondhi now blind in his left eye, says son

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File photo: Sondhi Limthongkul

national August 30, 2017 01:00


YELLOW-SHIRT LEADER Sondhi Limthongkul, who is serving a jail term for forgery, is blind in his left eye as the cataract he has suffered for a long time has become worse since he was jailed, said his son Jittanart yesterday.

Sondhi, 71, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after a court found him guilty of forgery relating to a bank loan deal in September last year.

“My father has been suffering from cataract in his left eye for a long time before he was sentenced to the jail term. The condition has worsened because of the conditions in the prison. Now the cataract has caused him [to lose the sight of] his left eye, he can no longer see,” said Jittanart.

Jittanart said that his father’s health is poor partly because there is a bullet fragment left in his skull from an attack in 2009.

“My father has suffered from severe headaches as a result of the presence of a bullet fragment in his skull. Doctors can’t give him an MRI examination because the fragment is metal. The only way to remove it is an operation,” he said.

He said his father collapsed once because the shrapnel moved from its original position. Any treatment on Sondhi will have to follow Corrections Department regulations.

Sondhi, Thai media mogul and founder of Manager daily newspaper and ASTV satellite broadcaster, was a core leader of People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) that was involved in a series of political crises in Thailand.

He was once a supporter of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra but turned to be leader of the anti-Thaksin movement or PAD.

In April, 2009, gunmen in a pickup truck ambushed Sondhi’s car at a petrol station in the Samsen area and fired M-16 and AK-47 assault rifle rounds at the car. The attackers escaped when Sondhi’s followers in another car opened fire on them.

Sondhi suffered a serious head wound and underwent emergency surgery in hospital. He survived the surgery, which involved removing several bullet fragments from his skull.

Despite the jail conditions, Sondhi has a strong and good spirit and will continue using his experience and knowledge to teach other inmates, Jittanart said.


Source  :  The Nation Multimedia

Sorrayuth jailed

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national August 30, 2017 01:00

By The Nation

Supreme court rejects bail application of TV news host in MCOT cheating case after appeal court upholds prison sentences.

THE SUPREME COURT yesterday rejected the bail petitions of celebrated former TV news host Sorrayuth Suthassanachinda and two other defendants in the bribery and embezzlement case involving commercial air time of the state-owned public broadcaster Mass Communications Organisation of Thailand (MCOT).

The top court’s ruling followed the upholding of the lower court’s verdicts by the Court of Appeals yesterday.

Lawyers of the convicts yesterday offered guarantee of Bt4 million for each of them but the Supreme Court rejected their bail plea.

The case goes back to 2005-06 when MCOT used to broadcast Sorrayuth’s popular TV news programme.

Sorrayuth, former MCOT official Pichapa Iamsa-ard, and Montha Thiradej, an employee of Sorrayuth’s Rai Som Co, were found to have violated anti-corruption and other criminal laws in the bribery and embezzlement case.

The lower court handed down jail terms of 13 years and four months to Sorrayuth and Montha, and a jail term of 20 years to Pichapa, all of which were upheld yesterday by the Appeals Court.

Sorrayuth was also the managing director of Rai Som Co, the private firm contracted by MCOT to produce his popular news programme at the time.

The Appeals Court said in a statement that all three were guilty, as ruled by the |lower court, for causing massive financial damage to the state-owned MCOT.

At the time, Pichapa was an official coordinating MCOT’s commercial air time for Sorrayuth’s news programme. She was found to have illegally facilitated Rai Som Co to profit from extra commercial air time without reporting the additional revenues to the state agency.

In addition, Pichapa was found guilty of accepting bribes from the other defendants totalling more than Bt650,000 via six cheques signed by Sorrayuth in his capacity as the chief executive of Rai Som.

Altogether, MCOT suffered an estimated loss of Bt139 million in advertising revenue from 17 additional commercial air time slots allowed illegally during the 2005-06 period.

The Appeals Court said that Pichapa, the first defendant, was clearly aware of the commercial air time slots. Hence there was no reason to believe that it was an unintended mistake to allow extra advertising time |and profits for Rai Som as argued by her lawyer.

The court also said it was unreasonable to believe that Sorrayuth and Rai Som Co were not involved in the bribery and embezzlement case as claimed, as the first defendant had said she was asked to make corrections on multiple advertising air time reports to facilitate the extra air time and revenues.

Convicts to appeal to Supreme Court

The Appeals Court rejected Sorrayuth’s plea to take into account all the good work he had done for the public, saying his claims had no relevance to the bribery and embezzlement case and hence there was no ground for the court to revise the lower court’s verdicts.

All four defendants submitted 16 points of arguments to the Appeals Court as to why they were not guilty.

Following the rejection of their bail applications, Sorrayuth and the other defendants said they would petition the Supreme Court to review the verdicts.

Meanwhile, MCOT filed a separate embezzlement lawsuit in the North Bangkok court against Pichapa, Sorrayuth, Montha and two other Rai Som Co employees – Angkana Wattanamongolsilp and Sukanya Sae Lim.

The court will hear the witnesses on October 17.


Source  :  The Nation Multimedia

Hunt for fugitive former prime minister Yingluck focuses on six countries

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File photo: Pol Colonel Watanyu Wittayaphalothai provides security escort for Yingluck Shinawatra during her tenure as the prime minister. He is said to have been one of the 14 people who last saw Yingluck in Thailand last Wednesday.

politics August 30, 2017 01:00


THAI AUTHORITIES have contacted Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates in the hunt for former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra as they believe she travelled through one of the countries to escape.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday said that the Foreign Ministry has sought cooperation through diplomatic channels with the six countries and checked immigration points along Thai borders to find Yingluck, who fled from the Kingdom shortly before the verdict was announced on her rice-pledging scheme case last week.

Prayut said Thailand did not contact the United Kingdom – where Yingluck is speculated to have sought political asylum – as he doubted she would qualify for that status.

Yingluck’s current whereabouts remains a mystery since she failed to show up at the Supreme Court last Friday to hear a final ruling on her charge of allegedly neglecting irregularities in the rice-pledging scheme that caused thousands-of-billions-baht damage to the national budget.

Army chief General Chalermchai Sitthisat said he believed Yingluck’s escape was well planned with advance preparations made with the help of her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled by a coup in 2006 and now lives in exile in Dubai.

“Unlike ordinary people, Yingluck had the potential to escape by herself. Her brother could prepare facilities for her, such as a private jet,” he said, adding that she discarded her mobile phone and stopped using her usual vehicle for travelling shortly before her disappearance.

The army chief said he believed Yingluck had left the country, even though there was no clear evidence that she had done so.

He admitted her escape exposed a flaw in the operations of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and the Army, which oversees security matters and the border.

Useful discussions

Police chief Chakthip Chaijinda said that the officers would talk to at least 14 people who reportedly met Yingluck at a hotel in Bangkok before she fled the country.

Police earlier questioned her bodyguards, including Pol Colonel Watanyu Wittayaphalothai, who has provided security to the Shinawatra family’s political office holders since the premiership of Yingluck’s brother Thaksin.

Deputy police chief Pol General Srivara Rangsipramanakul said he met Watanyu on Monday. He said it was a useful discussion but he could not disclose any details.

Immigration police have checked all possible departure points, including airports, but had found no clues to how she managed to slip out of the country.

Thai police have contacted Interpol, which is represented in more than 190 countries, but so far have not yet received any replies.

Prayut and Chalermchai reiterated that junta officials, who watched Yingluck’s movements, did not take part or facilitate her escape.

“I do not see any benefit [for the NCPO]. We are now blamed. PM Prayut [Chan-o-cha] calls me every day to expedite efforts to locate her,” the Army chief said.

Prayut said: “You people kept grumbling that we violated human rights by keeping a close watch on her, so now don’t complain. I regret we are being blamed for letting her go, which is not true.”

All officers found to have helped Yingluck escape will be prosecuted, he added. “There must be a legal way to prosecute her eventually,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said he was not involved in Yingluck’s escape, adding that he never knew her in person.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry and security offices dodged questions on who would be responsible to decide on the revocation on Yingluck’s Thai passport.

While Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said that the ministry needs to be approached by the police to proceed with the revocation, police chief Chakthip said that the ministry should take care of the matter itself. “These kinds of things don’t need an order to proceed. If it is their duty, it can be proceeded with at once,” Chakthip said.


Source  :  The Nation Multimedia

Central Bank of Iraq Auctions $159,741,579 on 29 August 2017

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Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) The Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) currency auction on August 29 registered $159,741,579 in sales, a 4.03% volume increase from the US $153,546,735 sold by Iraqi Dinar, credit and transfer at the previous auction held on August 28.

The latest auction was attended by 38 banks and 10 remittance companies. 6 fewer institutions attended the auction held on August 29 compared to the previous auction.

Data for the August 29 auction was made public by CBI Announcement Number 3515.

Dollar sales in the in the period January 1, 2017 to August 29, 2017 saw an increase of 0.13% compared to the sales of US $13.9 billion in the same period in 2016. The total amount of US currency sold by CBI in the calendar year 2016 was US $14.55 billion.

An analysis of the monthly dollar sales by CBI since January 2016 reveals highly fluctuating volumes. During the period from January 2016 to August 2017, sales of US dollars averaged US $1.82 billion per month. Peak volumes were reached in May this year when sales touched US $2.3 billion.

Year Month US dollar sales in billions Increase/(decrease) compared to the previous month
2016 January 2
2016 February 2.09 4%
2016 March 1.95 -7%
2016 April 1.94 -0%
2016 May 2.09 8%
2016 June 1.8 -14%
2016 December 0.4 -78%
2017 January 2.2 450%
2017 February 2 -9%
2017 March 2.1 5%
2017 April 1.8 -14%
2017 May 2.3 28%
2017 June 0.6 -74%
2017 July 2.2 267%
2017 August 1.8 -18%



Source  :  Iraqi News