A PROMINENT lawyer himself faces the prospect of being on the wrong end of a lawsuit after a former friend turned whistle blower and made serious allegations against him.
Sittha Biabangkerd, renowned for his involvement in a string of high-profile cases, is being investigated by several agencies over his role in the acquittal of former Miss Teen Thailand Amelia “Amy” Jacobs.
The TV actress was arrested last year with her boyfriend for possession of 70 grams of crystal methamphetamine, or “ice”, and 16 ecstasy pills. Earlier this year, she was acquitted of drug trafficking, with the court accepting her defence that she was just a user, not a seller. Her sentence for possession was a suspended jail term and a Bt5,000 fine.
The outcome would not ordinarily have raised any suspicions had Atchariya Ruangrat-tanapong, chairman of the Help Crime Victims Club, not come forward with a claim that three policemen, two civilians and one public prosecutor colluded to secure Jacobs’ acquittal on the more serious charge.
Yesterday, Atchariya submitted evidence to both the Attorney-General and the Metropolitan Police Bureau.
“I will soon expose a secret of a famous lawyer,” Atchariya said, without identifying Sittha by name.
The Lawyers Council of Thailand has confirmed that it had received a complaint against Sittha.
“We have set up a fact-finding committee. It will convene meetings later this week,” said the council’s secretary general Sarancha Srichonwattana.
He added that if Sittha was found to have violated lawyers’ rules, he would be disqualified.
Atchariya and Sittha were once close friends but there have been signs of a falling out recently.
Last month, Atchariya wept during a TV interview as he spoke about his relationship with Sittha. He said they had grown apart because Sittha’s ideology seemed to have changed.
“He even tried to force me to lie to his wife. He wanted me to claim that a woman travelling with him to Hua Hin was my niece. I couldn’t do that,” Atchariya said.
For his part Sittha says Atchariya was unhappy that he had pointed out loopholes in his work.
After meeting with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Pol Lt General Chanthep Sesavej yesterday, Atchariya said his whistleblowing was not a personal vendetta.
“Drug problems undermine the nation. I can’t stay silent about a gang that could whitewash drug traffickers,” he said.