THURSDAY, February 29, 2024

Prosecutors race against time to keep Ittipol’s corruption case alive

Prosecutors race against time to keep Ittipol’s corruption case alive

The Office of the Attorney-General said on Thursday that it was making sure the corruption case against former mayor of Pattaya City Ittipol Khunpluem, currently on the run, would not be scotched by the expiry of the statute of limitations.

Ittipol is accused of abuse of power for allegedly issuing an illegal construction permit to Bali Hai Co Ltd to build a luxury condominium at the base of Phra Tamnak Mountain in Pattaya City, Chonburi province in 2008 during his tenure as mayor of Pattaya City.

The case has a statute of limitation of 15 years, which ends on Sunday (September 10).

This means that Ittipol would be free and the charges cannot be resubmitted if he was not brought to the court by 4.30pm on Friday, before the court closes for the weekend.

Deputy spokesman of the office Kosonwat Inthujanyong said they had sent an urgent letter to the secretariat of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), urging the agency to appeal to the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases to reissue arrest warrants for Ittipol and other suspects believed to be responsible for issuing the construction permit.

He added that the new warrants would ensure the statute of limitations would not expire on September 10, and include a remark as to when the suspects have fled.

The office is citing Section 13 of the 2018 Organic Law on Anti-Corruption, which stipulates that if a suspect or defendant has fled during the court procedure, the fleeing period shall not be counted as part of the statute of limitations period.

The warrants will be issued for three suspects currently on the run, namely Ittipol Khunpluem, Phichet Uthaiwatthananont and Witthaya Sirinworachai.

Seven other suspects, namely Yattiphong Intharat, Ekaphong Boonchai, Wutthisak Rermkijjakarn, Aphichart Phanpheut, Suthee Thabnonghee, Chanont Kerdyuu, and Chaiwat Jaengsawang, have already reported to the prosecutors as per the court summons.

Ittipol, 49, served as the Culture Minister in the Prayut Chan-o-cha administration from 2019 to 2023. He was the mayor of Pattaya City from 2008 to 2016.

His family has long been influential in the eastern province of Chonburi.