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Australian report challenges Thammanat’s claims

Australian report challenges Thammanat’s claims

BANGKOK: An Australian report has challenged Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompow’s accounts about his role in a 3.2kg heroin-smuggling crime that landed him in a Sydney jail in 1993.

politicsdrugscrime
By Bangkok Post

Tuesday 10 September 2019, 08:18AM


Deputy Agriculture Minister Capt Thammanat Prompow at briefing to explain in Bangkok about his Sydney jail time on July 11. Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill / Bangkok Post

Deputy Agriculture Minister Capt Thammanat Prompow at briefing to explain in Bangkok about his Sydney jail time on July 11. Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill / Bangkok Post

The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday (Sept 10) published an investigative report titled From sinister to minister: politician’s drug trafficking jail time revealed about the case based on court documents.

In July, when news the Palang Pracharath MP for Phayao province might be allocated a minister’s seat emerged, there were questions about his suitability because of his shady past. Some people knew about his jail time in Australia but no one knew the details of the case until now.

The fact that he changed his names several times further complicated the issue and made verifying his claims almost impossible until Sydney Morning Herald found details about the case in “a six-inch stack of news briefs” and began investigating.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam had said back then the case did not have a bearing on his qualifications as a minister because a person could not take a ministerial post only when his guilt was decided by a Thai court.

Capt Thammanat also held a briefing in July explaining that the heroin charges against him in Australia were not serious and that he was simply “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

But the Sydney Morning Herald report yesterday shows Capt Thammanat, who went by the name 2nd Lt Manat Bophlom at the time, was among the key members of the gang. The report cited court files detailing police reports, some of which had been obtained by using listening devices in a Sydney hotel room where the members met.

Contrary to what he claimed, Capt Thammanat knew what the content being smuggled was and had earlier helped in Thailand to arrange a visa and bought a plane ticket for a carrier, read the article.

After he was arrested in Sydney, along with his half-brother and two Australians drug smugglers – Sam Calabrese and Mario Constantino, he was charged with conspiracy to import heroin and refused bail.

It said he first denied the charges and was sentenced to nine years in jail. After that, he cooperated and later confessed.

He was sentenced to six years in jail with a non-parole period of four years.

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Besides, the documents suggested he had friends in high places even back then. “Manat’s deep connections in Thailand were underlined when he produced character references from a judge and a police lieutenant-colonel who each said he “always has good behaviours [sic], honesty and is reliable”, read the article.

Capt Thammanat and his half-brother were released on April 14, 1997 and immediately deported.

Judging from the timeline in the article, he apparently did not work in Sydney and was not sent back home because of “a policy of the then mayor of not welcoming foreigners with no permanent residences” like he told reporters during the July briefing.

Although he is a deputy agriculture minister, it is a well-known fact that his key role was as a fixer or coordinator to keep the coalition together. He once told reporters that without him the coalition would collapse.

During the weekend, he managed to lure back the leader of a micro party who threatened, not for the first time, to pull out of the coalition. “I’m a monkey keeper so I need to keep feeding them bananas all the time. I believe they’re full now,” he said, before calling the micro party’s leader to make the point.

In response to the report, Capt Thammanat yesterday evening said it was yet another attempt by the same group of people who tried to discredit him.

“Don’t give it any credit. They keep repeating the same story. I can’t be bothered,” he said.

He added no senior Cabinet minister had asked him about this since they knew it was old news and the works of his political opponents.

 

Read original story here.

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Kurt | 10 September 2019 - 13:11:49

As I wrote before, the longer the explanations are of wrong doingings , the easier it is to shoot holes in their stories and lies.
There is a saying: When get shaved, sit still and keep your mouth closed. Don't spoil your several times name changing.

Kurt | 10 September 2019 - 13:07:13

Is all that name changing of the convicted imprisoned persons not saying enough?
Strange that a RTP officer after jail time abroad can be welcomed back in Thailand with flowers and picked up his RTP job as nothing has happened. And another ex drugs convict as deputy Minister?  How can thai persons who served jail time in Australia being discredited?  Article is bursting of high level corruption.

 

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