Chuvit gets prison for demolishing bars, shops

national January 29, 2016 01:00

By THE NATION

9,577 Viewed

Outspoken politician handed two-year sentence, tells press 'you will miss me'



CHUVIT Kamolvisit, a colourful massage-parlour tycoon turned headline-grabbing politician, has gone to jail for two years over the 2003 demolition of bars on Sukhumvit Road that put him in the spotlight more than a decade ago. 
Leveraging that spotlight, Chuvit transformed himself into an outspoken politician with sharp comments and an anti-corruption stance. 
“If I am sentenced to jail, I will serve my term as an inmate,” Chuvit said yesterday as he walked into the Supreme Court to hear the verdict.
He insisted that he would respect the court’s decision because he had never thought of fleeing justice. 
 
‘Setting an example’
He said he wanted to set an example for other politicians and people in general that one should comply with court verdicts. 
The Supreme Court handed down the two-year jail term to Chuvit and 65 accomplices for the violent pre-dawn raid that resulted in the bulldozing of bars and attacks on bar owners and staff. 
Chuvit bought the land where the bars were located for Bt500 million and ordered the bulldozing of the businesses when their owners refused to leave. 
“When I purchased it, the bank said it could evict the existing occupants from the plot. So when the occupants refused to leave, I felt pressure to do something,” Chuvit said last October when he decided to confess.
At the time he made the confession, this case had already gone to the highest court.
Until last October, Chuvit had insisted that he did not order the demolition.
In 2006, the Criminal Court gave Chuvit the benefit of the doubt and acquitted him.
But in 2012, the Court of Appeals convicted him and sentenced him to five years in jail.
The Supreme Court reaffirmed the guilty verdict but reduced the jail term because Chuvit had offered satisfactory compensation to his victims and turned the land into a public park. 
“But there is no grounds for a jail-term suspension given that it was a blatant crime with an excessive use of force,” the court announced. 
Some of the co-accused, such as Major Thanyathep Thammathorn, did not show up to hear the verdict. The authorities will issue arrest warrants for them. 
According to Bangkok Remand Prison chief Aryut Sintopphan, Chuwit and about 30 other |accomplices were sent to the correctional facility at about 3pm yesterday. 
“A check-up showed Chuvit has had high-blood pressure,” Aryut said. 
Before Chuvit walked into court yesterday, he told media: “When I am away, you will miss me.” 
Since 2003, he has been a staple of news coverage, using colourful stunts to gain attention. 
He often broke scandals involving the police force, which he used to have very good ties with during his years as the massage-parlour tycoon. 
His Facebook page has more than 930,000 “likes”. 

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