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Anti-corruption commission readies case against Plodprasob over tigers

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will meet with the Office of the Attorney-General today to arrange for proceedings to begin against Science Minister Plodprasob Surassawadi over his controversial approval of the export of 100 tigers to China in 2003.

Plodprasob, who headed the Royal Forestry Department (RFD) at the time, said yesterday he was currently immune to legal prosecution because he was an MP carrying out his duty during the ongoing parliamentary session.

The Constitution provides legal immunity to legislators while the Parliament is in session.

The current session will end in December.

"I am not worried at all," Plodprasob said. He was ready to fight this case to the end if the anti-graft agency pushed for prosecution against him.

"The allegation against me is untrue," Plodprasob said.

NACC secretary-general Apinan Israngura Na Ayuthaya yesterday said he would send officials to meet with the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) today to discuss when Plodprasob should turn himself in for prosecution.

The NACC has ruled that Plodprasob abused his authority in approving the export of the tigers.

Recently, Saman Donnapee, who is now director of the RFD's Forest Land Management Bureau, asked the OAG to report on progress in the case.

In response, the OAG announced that public prosecutors had already issued an opinion that Plodprasob should be prosecuted and had informed the NACC it must bring Plodprasob before the OAG for prosecution.

"We have already drafted the prosecution documents. We can start the prosecution as soon as the NACC hands over the suspect," OAG spokesman Winai Damrongmongkolkul said.

Plodprasob yesterday complained that Saman should not have pushed for the case against him because it was not under Saman's jurisdiction.

"This case is under the jurisdiction of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department," Plodprasob said.

According to the science minister, the 100 exported tigers have given birth to more than 200 tiger cubs. They are now at Chinese zoos. Of the original 100 tigers exported from Thailand, 20 have died.


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