Severe penalties in changes to Thailand's anti-graft law

Severe penalties in changes to Thailand's anti-graft law
PHOTO: The Star/ANN

State officials and foreigners could face severe punishment for corruption - with the threat of execution under a new amendment to the anti-graft law.

The amendment has no limit for court cases - unlike the previous statute of limitations. This has kicked off debates over past corruption cases involving politicians such as Thaksin Shinawatra, who fled abroad in late 2008 to avoid a jail sentence for a suspect land deal.

The Royal Gazette published the third amendment of the Constitution Organic law on Counter Corruption 2015 on Thursday. It took effect last Friday.

Seven extra sections were added to Article 13 under the Act, from Article 123/2 to 123/ 8, listing types of corrupt acts or wrongdoing, plus penalties such as seizing assets from state officials found guilty of graft.

Under Article 123/2, state officials or foreign officials or people working for international organisations who call for or take bribes in return for malfeasance or negligence in duty for the benefit of bribers could face a sentence from five to 20 years, life in jail, or even execution. They could also face a fine from Bt100,000 (S$4000) to Bt400,000. People found to have committed offences before they took office could still face all the penalties except execution.

For individuals found to have taken bribes to use their power to force other officials to commit wrongdoing could face up to five years in jail or a fine of up to Bt100,000, or both.

The amendment also leaves the statute of limitations for court cases - previously 20 years for criminal offences - unlimited from now on.

Amendment of Article 11 of the Act has changed the procedure relating to the statute of limitations and penalties under the Article 74/1.

It now stipulates that if an accused or defendant escapes while being prosecuted or on trial, the period that he or she escapes abroad is not counted as part of the statute of limitations.

And if defendants escape after a court issues a final verdict, Article 98 of the Criminal Code would not be enforced.

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