By Kesinee Tangkhieo
The procurement worth Bt9 million was made in 2010.
Suttiwat Wattanakij, as executive of the Avia Satcom Co Ltd, was given a nine-year jail term while his firm was ordered to pay a Bt18,000 fine.
Two other defendants, who are employees of the firm, were acquitted.
The court said there were grounds to convict Suttiwat and his firm for fraud because, contrary to the firm’s advertisement, the GT200 devices had failed to detect explosives and narcotics from a distance.
All defendants denied any wrongdoing and had shown up in court on their own yesterday to hear the verdict. Suttiwat’s lawyer, Wora-at Sunthorn-apichart, lamented the verdict, saying the court held the seller responsible for the devices’ flaws.
“But in reality, this knowledge is not something a private firm can possess. My client really did not know the devices had problems,” Wora-at said.
According to the lawyer, the company had merely ordered the devices based on their specifications and believed in the results of tests that were allegedly conducted before the devices arrived in Thailand.
“Once the devices arrived at a Thai airport, military personnel picked them up,” Wora-at said.
Suttiwat said he would appeal the verdict and was now trying to find assets worth Bt900,000 to offer as bail guarantee.
In 2010, several military units bought GT200 scanners, but the device’s failure to detect bombs and drugs triggered a big corruption scandal. It is still unclear how many lawsuits have been filed. The National Anti-Corruption Commission is now investigating the procurement to determine if any government officials should be held responsible.