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.
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