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Confession does not win freedom for Tarit

Dec 14. 2018
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By THE NATION WEEKEND

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DESPITE confessing, former Department of Special Investigation (DSI) director-general Tarit Pengdit’s hopes for more lenient treatment were dashed when the Supreme Court sentenced him on Friday to a year in jail for libel.

The highest court reversed the verdicts by the lower Criminal and Appeals courts that found him not guilty.

In February 2013, former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban filed a libel lawsuit against Tarit for having suggested that the minister had employed political influence in bidding for a government project to build 396 police stations across the nation.

The project remains uncompleted as of now. 

Earlier this week, the defendant submitted a written confession and withdrew the testimony he had given to the lower courts. On Thursday, Tarit also had his lawyer make a Bt100,000 payment with the court intended as compensation for the plaintiff.

It was reported earlier that Tarit sought an out-of-court settlement with Suthep, 69, through mediation by a respected figure in legal circles.

The DSI ex-chief, 60, showed up at Supreme Court on Chaeng Wattana Road early Friday morning, well over an hour before the court was scheduled to read its verdict at 9am.

The court rejected Tarit’s confession and withdrawal of testimony, saying these actions cannot be taken at this stage. 

As for Tarit’s claim that he had reached an out-of-court settlement with Suthep, the court said no accord had been reached, as the plaintiff did not wish to compromise. The court also ordered that the defendant’s Bt100,000 be returned.

The Supreme Court then issued a verdict, sentencing Tarit to a year in prison without suspension. After the verdict, Corrections Department officials escorted Tarit to the Bangkok Remand Prison.

In his lawsuit, Suthep claimed that while serving as DSI chief, Tarit had held press conferences between January 21 and February 4, 2013 and told the media that the former deputy PM had instructed the Royal Thai Police to limit the bidding to just one contractor. 

Suthep, at the time, was in charge of the police bureau. 

Suthep’s lawyer Sawat Charoenpol said on Friday that Tarit had sought an out-of-court settlement with the plaintiff, through mediation by many senior figures including former attorney-general Kanit Nanakorn. 

“But Suthep did not agree to a settlement, because he had to consult with his legal team,” the lawyer said.

No special treatment

Meanwhile, Corrections Depart-ment director-general Naras Saves-tanan said on Friday that Tarit would not get any special treatment while in prison, even though he was a senior official at the Justice Ministry and once his boss.

“I have no worries, as I am carrying out my duty in accordance with court orders,” Naras said. 

Just like other new inmates, Tarit will be held at the prison’s “initiation zone” for about two weeks, to familiarise himself with the new environment, before he is moved to another area, the official added. 

In addition to getting fingerprinted and having their details recorded, new inmates also have to undergo a medical check-up to determine if they have any health problems, Naras said. 

He noted that inmates who are 60 or above, like Tarit, often come with health problems, if not a chronic disease. 

Inmates with health problems can bring along their medicines, and those who become ill while serving time, have the right to get treatment at the prison’s clinic or at the Corrections Hospital if the case is severe, the official added. 

 

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