Family works on pardon for Kamnan Poh
Less than a week after the notorious former godfather Somchai Khunpluem was arrested and sent to jail, his family has begun to seek a Royal pardon for him.The plan comes after the 76-year-old convict was moved from a prison to a hospital in his hometown and political stronghold, Chon Buri. The Chon Buri Prison approved the transfer citing Somchai's need for medical treatment.
"We are going to ask for a Royal pardon. We will be proceeding in line with laws and an appropriate timeframe," Culture Minister Sonthaya Kunplome, one of Somchai's sons, said yesterday. "I am doing my duty as a son."
Observers say that thanks to Somchai's business and political influence, his children have had a smooth, successful ride in politics.
Somchai, widely known as Kamnan Poh, went on the run only after he was convicted of corruption and then of a murder. He had been in hiding for about seven years before being arrested late last month in Bangkok.
Sonthaya yesterday shrugged off a suggestion the Khunpluem family would run into trouble for illegally sheltering Somchai during the past many years.
"My father has moved around on his own. He goes wherever he wants," Sonthaya said. He also believed his father's case would not affect his political status.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung also dismissed a suggestion Somchai had enjoyed preferential treatment.
"When an inmate is ill, he can get treatment," he said. On the move to ask for a Royal pardon, Chalerm said any inmate had the right to request one.
Crime Suppression Division commander Maj-General Supisal Pakdeenareunart, meanwhile, said police would summon the director of the Samitivej Hospital's Srinakarin branch for questioning.
Records showed Somchai had received treatment at the hospital, sometimes as an inpatient and sometimes as an outpatient, for over a year. Suspicion is growing among officials that someone there might have intentionally provided treatment for Somchai without alerting the authorities, despite the fact he was wanted on murder and corruption charges.