Crooked Politician Will Serve Life Prison TermThe elderly ex-mayor of Saensuk will be serving a sentence of 28 years and 5 months for the killing of another local politician in 2003. He had evaded punishment with various court appeals and evading police until he was finally arrested.
A fugitive from justice for nearly a decade, Mr. Somchai Khunpluem or Kamnan Paou, will serve what amounts to a lifetime sentence behind bars for the 2003 contract killing of another politician, Mr. Prayoon Sittichote or Kamnan Yoon. The victim, Mr. Prayoon, was himself a suspect in the murder of a police official at the time of his killing.
Mr. Somchai spent eight years escaping justice, and had skipped court appearances to hear his sentences. In 2006, an arrest warrant was issued in connection with two cases, the murder-for-hire, and a scam involving the buying and selling of cheap land in Khao Mai Kaew.
In the murder case, Mr. Somchai was convicted of hiring a hitman to kill Mr. Prayoon. In his appeal, Mr. Somchai claimed the hitman was coerced into lying by an overzealous police commander who had his own political ambitions.
In the land swindle, Mr. Somechai was charged with being a part of purchasing and selling 140 rai of Khao Mai Kaew land to Pattaya city for 93 million baht, for use as a potential waste dump.
But the land turned out to be in a conservation area and could not be used for that purpose. It was also discovered that the real worth of the land was about 50,000 baht per rai, but Mr. Somchai had bought it for 700,000 baht per rai.
A detective team had received the complaint to investigate the land swindle, and found that Mr.Somchai had joined with the Pattaya city authority and corrupt government officers involved in the purchase of the land scam.
But during the trial of the case, the killing of Mr. Prayoon occurred on March 9, 2003, while he was attending a wedding ceremony. The suppression division police had investigated the murder until they had enough evidence to request a warrant to arrest Mr. Somchai, and also arrest Mr. Passakorn Hormhuan or 2M Sgt. Hiaw, the former Sansuk municipality house member, on charges that they had conspired to hire people to kill Mr. Prayoon.
The case was brought to court in 2005, and the motive for the killing was linked to the younger brother of Mr. Prayooon, whose name was Mr. Prayuth Sittichote, or Phuyai Yuth (head of the village). Mr. Prayuth was abducted and missing since1999, and Kamnan Yoon had filed a complaint with the Suppression Division, because he believed that Pol. Lt. Col. Chaiyan Wichaidit, who was associated with the company of Mr. Somchai, was involved.
Later in 2002, Pol. Lt. Col. Chaiyan was shot and killed, and this case, Kamnan Yoon was the prime suspect in the murder. But not long after that, Kamnan Yoon was shot dead as well.
Mr. Somchai’s murder case was transferred to the Criminal Court in Ratchadapisek. In 2004, the court convicted and sentenced Mr. Somchai to 25 years in prison, but also added on the sentencing for the Khao Mai Kaew land swindle case of 5 years and 4 months. So Mr. Somchai was sentenced to a total of 30 years and 4 months in prison.
The next year, in 2005, the Court of Appeals judgment confirmed the land fraud sentence of 5 years and 4 months, but Mr. Somchai posted bail to fight his case in the Supreme Court.
In February 2006, the Supreme Court had set a court date to read the sentence of the case of buying the waste land, but Mr. Somchai sent his lawyer to postpone the date by claiming he was ill. The Supreme Court ended up postponing two scheduled court dates. When Mr. Somchai did not show up for an April 2006 court date, the court issued an arrest warrant.
The Supreme Court read the judgment behind the defense to imprison Mr. Somchai, for 3 years 5 months for the land fraud case, while counting the reduction of the sentence by the Court of Appeals.
But for the case of the hired killing of Kamnan Yoon, the court made an appointment to read the sentence in March 2012. The high court confirmed the sentence set by the trial and upheld by the appeals court, which called for Mr. Somchai to be imprisoned for 25 years. The Supreme Court also added on the sentence for the Khao Mai Kaew corruption case, so Mr. Somchai will be serving a total of 28 years and 5 months in prison.
The former mayor of Saensuk was arrested after nearly a decade of evading imprisonment for the 2003 murder of a local politician. Mr. Somchai Khunpluem or Kamnan Paou, and several other suspects were convicted of hiring a hitman to kill Mr. Prayoon Sitthichot or Kamnan Yoon in 2003.