Former public health minister Rakkiart Sukthana, who was jailed for corruption, has died aged 65, a TV host has said.
Sgt Pongsan Saenkaew, the host of several television programmes, posted pictures on Facebook, showing the funeral rites for Rakkiart.
Pongsan said Rakkiart, who was elected as an Udon Thani MP seven times and became a Cabinet member five times, died in Chiang Rai and a cremation rite will be held in the province on Friday.
Rakkiart was the first Thai politician found guilty in a corruption case by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Office. The Supreme Court sentenced him to 15 years in jail in 2003 for accepting Bt5 million in bribes from a drugs firm when he was public health minister in the Chuan Leekpai government in 1998. The bribe prompted the Public Health Ministry to buy medicine from the firm at inflated prices.
Rakkiart did not attend the verdict and disappeared until he was found exercising in a park in Nonthaburi’s Pak Kret district.
His jail term was halved by a royal pardon and he was released in October 2009.
After he was released, Rakkiart entered the monkhood at Wat Mak Sukthana Srikharam where he often preached to warn politicians against corruption. He left the monkhood in January 2013.