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Kamnan Poh can't stay in hospital indefinitely, officials say

Somchai Khunpluem, also known as Kamnan Poh, the corruption and murder convict arrested last week after years on the run, will not be allowed to stay in hospital if it is deemed unnecessary by doctors, the deputy director-general of the Corrections Department said yesterday.

Kobkiat Kasiwiwat said no inmate is allowed to stay in a prison hospital once they have been declared fit by doctors.

Somchai's condition and his status as a local influential figure would be taken into consideration before any decision is made on whether he would be transferred to the prison in his home town, Chon Buri, as there was no doctor to take care of him at that facility, Kobkiat said.

Prisoners whose cases have been finalised are eligible for transfer to facilities in their home towns for the convenience of visiting relatives, he said.

Six of Somchai's relatives travelled to Bangkok from Chon Buri to visit him yesterday but were unable to see him as the prison does not allow visits on weekends.

Somchai, 74, had to be placed on a respirator on Friday night.

A corrections officer said yesterday morning that Somchai was conscious and able to talk. He ate boiled rice and an omelette for breakfast. Somchai had requested special meals and refused to accept the food provided by the Corrections Department, the officer said.

Somchai was admitted to the Medical Correctional Institution, the Corrections Department's hospital in Bangkok, on Wednesday night. The veteran politician was arrested earlier that day while on his way back to Chon Buri from a private hospital in Bangkok that he visited regularly while a fugitive. He had been on the run for seven years following corruption and murder convictions.

Pramual Aimpia, a former Democrat MP for Chon Buri, said Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung should stop making personal comments on legal issues related to Somchai's case.

Chalerm on Wednesday said there would be no attempt to take legal action against anyone who may have sheltered Somchai during his seven-year flight from justice, though criminal liability does exist for such an offence. He did not elaborate on the statement.

Central Investigation Bureau commissioner Lt-General Pongpat Chayapan, who led the operation to arrest Somchai, said the Crime Suppression Department was considering whether to investigate people who might have sheltered Somchai during his flight from justice.


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