The Criminal Court yesterday sentenced a key executive of the Santika Night Club - which was engulfed in a deadly inferno during a countdown party in the early hours of 2009 - to one year in jail for excise-tax evasion.
Visuk Setsawat, the managing director of White and Brothers (2003) Co Ltd, was found guilty of not filing excise-tax forms while running the upscale nightclub in Bangkok between 2003 and 2008 to avoid paying Bt85.38 million in excise tax. And that had caused damage to the Excise Department.
Due to the huge amount of evaded tax, the Criminal Court decided not to suspend Visuk’s jail term.
The defendant yesterday presented a land-title deed, worth more than Bt3 million, to secure his temporary release on bail.
His lawyer also vowed to appeal against the verdict.
Previously, Visuk successfully fought against a verdict in another case after the Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s ruling against him in relation to the fire.
On October 22 last year, the Court of Appeals acquitted Visuk even though the lower court sentenced him to three years in jail for recklessness leading to the death and injuries of others, as well as several other charges related to the blaze.
The entertainment venue apparently had too few fire exits, making it impossible for many patrons to escape the fire.
The fire started during a special-effects show and killed 59 people on site. More than 200 others were injured, eight of whom later died.