Justice Ministry cites evidence that supports claim of innocence by woman convicted of theft

national October 06, 2017 01:00

By KANITA SEETONG
THE NATION

THE JUSTICE Ministry has promised to help a woman fight her conviction and 10-year jail term that was upheld by the Court of Appeals yesterday.



“We will appeal to the Supreme Court,” ministry deputy permanent secretary Dusadee Arawuit said. 

He added that his team believed in the innocence of Pawitra Kongkampon, 32, the defendant in a robbery case linked to drugs.

In 2016, Pawitra faced an arrest warrant for allegedly drugging a man and stealing Bt759,000 worth of cash and valuables from him during a stay at a Trang-based resort in 2011. 

She denied wrongdoing, but on April 2, 2016, the court of first instance convicted her of the crime, sentencing her to 10 years in jail and a fine of Bt289,000.

“Initially, we didn’t think much about it. We thought that as long as we didn’t do anything wrong, charges would be dropped,” said Chayada Sasri, Pawitra’s mother. 

But after the conviction, Chayada said Pawitra realised it was necessary to fight for justice and appealed for help from Phuket’s Justice Provincial Office. 

The Justice Ministry has since assigned the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to investigate the case and gather evidence.

“We believe the evidence discovered by the DSI solidly supports Pawitra’s claim of innocence,” Dusadee said.

Among the evidence was a recording from an ATM showing that Pawitra was in Phuket’s Karon district at 11.30am on November 10, 2011, which appeared to indicate that it would have been impossible for her to join the victim at a restaurant in Trang province at 1pm the same day. The crime was allegedly perpetrated later that night. 

In addition, records at a Phuket-based hospital showed that Pawitra had weighed between 70 and 75 kilograms between 2011 and 2016, while the victim had described the perpetrator as being “slender”. 

Recordings from a department store also showed that the criminal appeared to weigh less than 70kg. 

Lab tests also confirmed that Pawitra had never undergone orthodontic procedures while the victim said the perpetrator had been wearing braces.

However, the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s verdict yesterday on the grounds that the new facts submitted did not outweigh the evidence of wrongdoing. 

The court also argued that the Justice Ministry had failed to set up a joint committee to gather evidence for the case, which rendered the new evidence unconvincing. 

Pawitra and her mother broke into tears after hearing the Court of Appeals’ decision. 

In addition to its promise of support to bring the case to the Supreme Court, the Justice Ministry has posted bail for Pawitra. 

“I really didn’t do it. Don’t make me pay for a crime I never committed,” Pawitra said. 

Neither the victim in the case nor a representative attended the reading of the verdict yesterday.

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