Thailand jails former officials for graft
BANGKOK – Thailand’s Supreme Court on Tuesday handed long jail sentences to two former top officials over a corruption scandal involving a mega purchase of fire trucks and boats.
Former deputy interior minister Pracha Maleenond was jailed for 12 years while ex-Bangkok fire department chief Atirak Tanchookiet was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The two were convicted of abuse of power and price collision over the 2004 deal to buy 315 fire trucks and 30 fireboats from Austrian company Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug for nearly 6.7 billion baht ($208 million).
Arrest warrants were issued after they failed to attend court for the hearing.
The Supreme Court judges found that the contract for the purchase price for the equipment had been inflated by nearly 50 percent.
“The purchase was not reasonable and caused damage to the country,” the court ruling said.
Three other suspects, including two former government ministers and a one-time Bangkok governor, were acquitted due to lack of evidence.