Monday, December 09, 2019

BBC Thai shows proof of Thammanat's imprisonment in Australia

Oct 09. 2019
Thammanat Prompao
Thammanat Prompao
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By The Nation

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BBC Thai has released notes of an official document obtained from a visit to an Australian court, stating that Manat Bophlom, the fomer name of Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Thammanat Prompao, had served four years in jail for a charge of conspiring to import heroin to Australia.

Early September, Australia newspaper Sydney Morning Herald broke the news about Manat's jail term, prompting Thammanat to accuse some Thais and foreign journalists of creating a smear campaign against him.

BBC Thai reported on Tuesday (October 8) that Thammanat said to the broadcaster that he was asking Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to contract Australia for a copy of the court verdict.

Reporters from BBC Thai went to Downing court in Sydney last month to make notes of the record and facts of the case with permission from court officials. They were allowed to use their laptop, but prohibited from photo-copying the document, according to BBC Thai.

The document stated that Manat was arrested by Australian police on April 15, 1993 at a guest room in Palage Hotel near Bondi beach. together with three persons including a Thai and two Australians.

The court record showed that Manat Bophlom had admitted to the charge of conspiring to import a commercial quantity of heroin to Australia on November 15, 1993. The presiding judge handed down the verdict on March 31, 1994 and sentencing Manat to six years in jail.

The court said he would be eligible for release after serving at least four years of his sentence. Manat was deported from Australia after being imprisoned for four years in Sydney, BBC Thai reported.

BBC Thai cited that Thammanat said to BBC Thai via telephone on October 4, 2019 that he did not plead guilty to the charge, but instead asked for negotiations between his attorney and the court.

He said he had not been involved in drug smuggling. He said at the time of his arrest, he did not have much experience or enough money to fight the charge, BBC Thai quoted him as saying.

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