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Cablegate: Justice Delayed, Not Justice Denied? Famous Thai

VZCZCXRO5959
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHBK #3087 2890845
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 150845Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4673
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 6411
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 9096
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 5299
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 4961
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 2467
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI PRIORITY 5714
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BANGKOK 003087

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KJUS PREL PGOV TH
SUBJECT: JUSTICE DELAYED, NOT JUSTICE DENIED? FAMOUS THAI
DEVELOPER CONVICTED IN 1992 HIT PLOT VS SUPREME COURT JUDGE

REF: BANGKOK 2481 (THAI COURT FLEXES MUSCLE)

Sensitive But Unclassified. Please handle accordingly.

1. (SBU) Thailand's Criminal Court convicted Rangsan
Torsuwan, one of Thailand's most famous architects and
influential developers, on charges related to attempted
murder on September 29, and sentenced him to 25 years'
imprisonment. Three other defendants also received lengthy
sentences, ranging from 16 to 25 years. The ruling marked an
end to a nearly 16-year long investigation, stemming from an
assassination attempt on the then-President of the Supreme
Court Praman Sunsue in October 1992. At the time, the affair
was memorable for its cast of high-society figures in the
judicial and business sectors; Rangsan was married to a judge
in the Appeals Court. Despite the conviction for attempted
murder, Rangsan and two of the defendants were released on
bail; their lawyers intend to appeal the verdict with the
Criminal Division of the Supreme Court's Appeals Court within
30 days. The verdict marks another example of a justice
system that appears increasingly willing to convict members
of Thailand's elite, including formerly untouchable,
high-society figures.

Convicted...but will he serve time?
-----------------------------------
2. (SBU) Paul Green, a legal specialist with the
International Commission of Jurists, and lawyer Somchai
Homla-or questioned whether Rangsan would ever serve time,
due to a long-standing culture of impunity for high-profile
figures. "Let's wait to applaud the courts until these
individuals actually serve time," Green told us October 2.
Green cited the recent convictions of Thaksin's wife Potjaman
(fled to the UK), former Deputy Interior Minister Vatana
(fled to Cambodia), and former prime minister Samak (in
Thailand, planning his appeals) as recent high-profile
convictions who have yet to serve jail time.

3. (SBU) Comment: A string of recent convictions of
Thailand's rich, powerful, and famous (reftel) have added
some excitement to media headlines, but legal groups are
still waiting for a conviction to lead to actual time spent
in prison instead of additional appeals combined with flight
abroad. In Rangsan's case, justice delayed may yet still end
up as justice denied. The wait of 16 years may have afforded
him a more lenient sentence and guaranteed access to bail,
since Prama died of natural causes in early 2008 prior to the
conclusion of the case. End Comment.
ENTWISTLE

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