Thai court upholds ruling in Saudi diamond case

Thai court upholds ruling in Saudi diamond case

THAILAND - The supreme court yesterday upheld an Appeal Court's ruling of a seven-year jail term for Sawek Kanthama - a former police subordinate of crime-buster Chalor Kerdthes - for abusing authority and stealing jewellery evidence in relation to the Saudi Blue Diamond case.

Sawek, who had been acquitted along with three others by the Criminal Court in May 2006, sought to have the case dropped after prosecutors failed to file an appeal.

While the Criminal Court issued an order dropping the case in June 2007, an appeal was filed after the 30-day deadline. In the second trial, the Appeal Court sentenced Sawek to seven years in prison.

On February 9, 2012, the same court upheld the 20-year jail term for Chalor and cancelled the four subordinates' acquittal.

The Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the lower court's late issue of the document dropping the case was a mistake, as the case had not ended and the Appeal Court was authorised to overrule it. The Supreme Court declined to rule on Sawek's plea for cancelling the jail term, as such a request had to be posted in the key case, not attached to his objection to court documents.

After the verdict, Sawek - who has been behind bars for two and a |half years - said he would accept |the seven-year jail term.

Boonyakiat Udonsawaengchok, a special attorney, explained that a prosecutor can appeal against a verdict after the 30-day deadline provided the reasons can be explained. If a defendant asks for a final ruling during this time, court officials might misunderstand. In such a case, all had to obey the court's ruling, he said.

A source said that Sawek, in October 2012, also withdrew his appeal against the seven-year jail term with the Supreme Court, while the prosecutor pushed for the Supreme Court to continue trying the four policemen accused of embezzling the jewellery evidence. This case is still ongoing.

Meanwhile, Chalor's punishment for the jewellery embezzlement charges ended with 20 years in jail.

Chalor was released last October after serving 19 years in Bang Kwang Prison for his involvement in the 1994 abduction and murder of Darawadee Srithanakhan and her son. The intent was to force her jeweller husband Santi to give information about the stolen jewellery. His release was on grounds that he had served most of his sentence.

The case of jewellery stolen from Saudi Arabia since late 1980s has soured bilateral ties. Riyadh recalled its charge d'affairs on July 18,after the Criminal Court found five cops not guilty of abducting and murdering Saudi businessman, Mohammad al-Ruwaili, in 1990.

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