Politician’s jail term upheld

Thepthai Senpong
Thepthai Senpong

The Appeal Court on Tuesday upheld a two-year prison sentence against Democrat Party politician Thepthai Senpong and his younger brother, Manote Senpong, over fraud in a 2014 local election.

The lawsuit was filed by Pichai Boonyakiat, a former Nakhon Si Thammarat PAO chairman, who accused the brothers of vote-buying after they threw a party for voters ahead of the election for the Nakhon Si Thammarat provincial administration organisation (PAO) chief.

Provincial election officials filed a complaint with police in Muang district against the brothers seven years ago, but due to a lack of progress in that case, Mr Pichai decided to file a separate lawsuit.

The provincial court originally jailed the pair for three years, later reduced to two years, and also handed down a 10-year election ban against both men.

In January this year the Constitutional Court stripped Mr Thepthai of his status as a Democrat MP,  prompting a by-election in Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Constituency 3 on March 7, duly won by Ayasit Srisuwan, of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP).

Mr Ayasit gained 48,701 votes in the hotly-contested constituency, beating the Democrat’s Pongsin Senpong by about 4,000 votes.

Mr Pongsin is the youngest of the three brothers.

Following Tuesday’s Appeal Court’s decision, defence lawyers hurried to prepare a bail application as the brothers prepared to appeal their sentences at the Supreme Court.

Both had been freed on bail after their conviction in August last year.