Chonsawat eligible for release


FORMER politician Chonsawat Asavahame, who is in jail for election fraud, was eligible for a suspension of his prison sentence under the 2016 Royal pardon decree, Justice Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya said yesterday.

He said Chonsawat’s term had been reduced by four months so he had a little over a month to serve behind bars and was, thus, eligible. But it was up to the parole committee to decide on his case, then another committee headed by the Justice Ministry permanent secretary and Corrections Department chief would check the nominees and have the final say, the minister said.
Paiboon made the comment yesterday after presiding over a meeting of officials from the Justice, Interior, Labour, Public Health, Social Development and Human Security ministries, plus the Royal Thai Police on measures to support convicts released under the royal pardon so they won’t be repeat offenders or return to crime. As instructed by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, the agencies came up with the “Pracharath Huangyai Mai Thodthingkan” (‘A People’s State project that cares and won’t leave anyone behind’) plan, which will be put to the Cabinet next Tuesday, he said. Paiboon said about 200,000 inmates were initially deemed as eligible for a reduction of their time in jail to various degrees or even suspended jail terms.
About 3,000 of the first group of 7,780 inmates – youths, disabled, sick or elderly inmates, or those who committed petty offences – had been released already and the remaining 4,000 would be freed after Cabinet gives its approval.
The second group of inmates would see their jail terms reduced to various degrees. 
The third group consists of 5,000 inmates whose jail terms had been reduced a lot, which would allow them to be eligible for a suspension of their terms, he said. This group was now awaiting decisions from the parole committee. 
Paiboon also confirmed that no prisoners jailed for rape were granted pardons under the decree, as the criteria reflected a sentiment from society in seeking justice for that offence, except for cases between husband and wife. 
Paiboon said if inmates released via the decree commit crimes again they would be prosecuted and given extra jail time without any chance for parole or term reduction.