Thaksin's Lawyers in "Pastry Gate" sentenced to jail
The Supreme Court sentenced to six months in jail a legal team of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra over what is called "the Pastry Gate," in which a supreme court official was given a pastry box filled with Bt2 million in cash.The team members who each face six months in jail for violating the court's authority are lawyer Pichit Chuenban, coordinator Thana Tansiri and clerk Supasri Srisawat.
Pichit is lawyer of Thaksin on the case that he is alleged of abusing of power in purchasing a plot of land in Ratchadapisek area.
Supreme Court Vice President Mongkol Thapthiang, who heads a panel comprising Supreme Court judge Weeraphol Tangsuwan and Issaret Chairat, investigating the case, said Wednesday the panel found the three guilty of the charge.
"The action by the three shows the intention to persuade court officials to commit wrongdoing," the judge said.
"This action is serious and the court sentences each to six months in jail," it said.
Another man, Thana Tansiri, alleged to have delivered the parcel, failed to appear in court and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Further legal action on a separate charge of criminal bribery is expected.
The incident is considered grave because it was happened in the high court of the country. Any lawyer who is convicted of the charge cannot cannot work as a lawyer in any court again. The Law Society of Thailand will also have to take legal action against the lawyers.
Earlier reports said that a lawyer who used to represent a politician walked into the office of the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders, which handles the administrative affairs for the graft tribunal, a special court for corruption, early June.
The lawyer filed a writ and then handed a bag of pastries to court officials. A clerk looked into the bag and noticed the cash. He then asked the lawyer about the money. The reply was: "Divide the money up among yourselves."
The officials were utterly shocked by the incident. As they were trying to alert their superiors and supervising judges, a senior judge happened to pass by the room and asked what had happened.
After hearing the incident, the senior judge instructed that the money be counted and photographed. The cash was returned to the lawyer, who was present throughout the checking process.
The photograph was considered sufficient evidence for a bribery case. The cash was returned in order to dispel a counter argument that money already changed hands.
Earlier Pichit denied he was the lawyer who tried to bribe court officials by offering a box of pastries containing Bt2 million in cash.
"Our team of lawyers was not involved in the attempt to influence the panel of judges. We feel the Supreme Court will give us justice," Pichit said.
"We don't need to do that. It was not even in our thoughts. I'm confident the fact-finding panel will find out [the truth] about the attempted-bribery allegation," he said.
Pichit admitted that he and other lawyers had gone to the court on Tuesday, having been assigned by Thaksin and his wife, Pojaman, to file a request to report to the Supreme Court. He said they were there no longer than 30 minutes and did not take any gifts for court officials.