Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Ex-teacher’s fight for exoneration ends in imprisonment

Mar 06. 2019
Jomsap Saenmuangkhot
Jomsap Saenmuangkhot
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By The Nation

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A former teacher once praised for her fight against injustice in the country was sentenced to eight years in jail for perjury by a provincial criminal court.

The sentence by the court in Nakhon Phanom province saw Jomsap Saenmuangkhot return to jail after having sentenced to three years and two months in 2013 for hitting and killing a 74-year-old cyclist while driving her pickup in the province’s Renunakhon district in 2011.

She did not have to serve the whole jail term and was freed after a year and a half in prison when she received a royal pardon.

In 2015, she submitted a petition to the Justice Ministry to exonerate her as allowed by an Act, claiming she was not the driver of the vehicle that had killed the cyclist.

Her legal team arranged for a man named Sap Wapi to confess to the crime. An Appeals Court agreed to consider her petition.

The Justice Ministry then actively helped her fight her case. However, Sap later admitted that he had lied and had claimed responsibility for the fatal accident only in the hope of getting paid by a friend of Jomsap.

The public initially rallied behind her, considering her the face of injustice in the country. However, a large number of netizens who followed her case on a daily basis raised many questions about Sap’s confession.

The Nakhon Phanom Appeals Court on November 17, 2017 rejected Jomsap’s request for a retrial, and dismissed her plea for exoneration, saying there was no new evidence and upheld the earlier verdict.

Jomsap and her team were then charged with filing false information to police and the court and the case was submitted to public prosecutors in December 2017.

A member of Jomsap’s team, her former teacher colleague Suriya Nuancharoen, was sentenced to seven years and nine months in jail for hiring Sap while three other members were sentenced to jail for two years and two months.

Sap had earlier been sentenced to two years and 10 months in prison and his wife, who had also claimed her husband was the driver, got a one year and nine months sentence.

While other defendants were granted bail later in the day the court referred a decision on whether to allow bail for Jomsap and Suriya to the Court of Appeals.

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