Former cabinet minister Watana Muangsook has lost his final legal battle, with the Supreme Court’s division for politicians upholding a 50-year jail term for corruption in a low-cost housing project nearly two decades ago.
In a ruling read out at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions on Friday, the judges said the appeal by the former key member of the Pheu Thai Party had no grounds to reverse the sentence.
The same court in September 2020 found Watana guilty of 11 counts of corruption, which carry a term of up to 99 years in prison.
However, under the law, he can only spend a maximum of 50 years behind bars for the crimes.
Watana was accused of abusing power and demanding kickbacks related to the 2.5-billion-baht Eua Arthorn low-cost housing project when he served as minister of social development and human security in the government of Thaksin Shinawatra in the early 2000s.
He appealed the sentence and was granted bail on a 10-million-baht surety. Under the terms of his bail he was not allowed to leave the country.
Watana posted a Facebook message on Feb 19 expressing confidence that the evidence would prove his innocence and promised to be at the court on Friday.
“And no matter what will happen, I am ready to use all channels available to seek justice until the end. Thank you,” he wrote.
The inquiry was initiated by the now-defunct Assets Scrutiny Committee, which was formed after the 2006 military coup to handle alleged corruption cases against members of the ousted Thaksin government.ad
The case was then dealt with by the National Anti-Corruption Commission which forwarded its findings to the Office of the Attorney-General in November 2016 after recommending that Watana be indicted for violations of the Criminal Code.