Sontaya: Dad's fine, preparing for bail

Tourism and Sports Minister Sontaya Kunplome confirmed yesterday that his father Somchai Kunplome was well and would report to police on Thursday to face charges relating to the murder of Prayoon Sithichok. "My father is not under stress. Our family is confident that justice will prevail. He is preparing to post bail after reporting to police," the minister said. Sontaya talked to reporters for the first time following police raids on Somchai's office and residence last Thursday which failed to locate the suspect, who is also known as "Kamnan Poh". Sontaya said he was in contact with his father, who remains at large. Somchai, an influential power-broker seen as the godfather of Chon Buri, has been accused of masterminding Prayoon's murder and hiring gunmen to carry it out. Reacting to speculation that the move to arrest his notorious father might have been politically motivated, Sontaya said he did not suspect any political interference in the matter. "Police are handling the case under the rule of law. The case has yet to be proven in the eyes of the law, and we are entitled to a defence," he said. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, meanwhile, denied any political involvement in the murder case against Somchai. "The warrant for Somchai was based on evidence. Police have acted according to prescribed procedure for homicide, and they have proceeded with caution in the case," he said. Asked about any undue influence on Somchai's part, Thaksin said the case was a lesson. "It is high time rogue businessmen reformed if they want to avoid trouble. This is an age of transparency," he said. Reacting to Chat Thai leader Banharn Silapa-archa's criticism of police action, he said he had instructed police to treat Somchai honourably as one assumed innocent until proven guilty.


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