25 September 2020.
The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions has sentenced, former social development and human security minister in deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s cabinet, Watana Muangsook, to 99 years in jail for demanding bribes in the Baan Eua Arthon housing project of the National Housing Authority. He was found guilty of 11 counts, which carried a jail term of nine years each. But, Watana Muangsook will serve only 50 years in jail as it is the longest jail term a prisoner serves under the law. He was later allowed bail on a surety of $320,000 on the condition that he must not go abroad without court approval.
The Baan Eua Arthorn is a government housing program initiated by Thaksin aimed at the poor. Currently, he is a key member of the Pheu Thai Party in the house.
The court said Watana connived to allow rice trading tycoon Apichart Chansakulporn to demand over $3.2 million in bribes from several construction contractors in exchange for contracts under the welfare housing estate program.
The case was among several handled by the Asset Scrutiny Committee, which was tasked by the 2006 coup leaders to investigate corruption cases filed against Thaksin’s government. But the investigations were stopped when Thaksin’s sister Yingluck Shinawatra came to power. The 2014 coup leaders revived the case tasked anti-graft agency to investigate the allegations. Anti-graft agency found that there was ground for prosecution.
Meanwhile, rice trading tycoon Apichart Chansakulphorn, was sentenced to 50 years in jail, and former MP Arisman Phongruangrong to four years in prison.
Bangkok Post reported.