Failed Pursuit of Pin
Prosecutors 'did their best'
Attorney General Praphan Naikowit yesterday rejected claims that his office had failed in its mission to locate and seek the extradition of Pin Chakkaphak, whose alleged massive siphoning-off of funds from his own business was seen as sparking the 1997 economic meltdown.Praphan defended public prosecutors after it was disclosed that Pin has returned to Bangkok following the expiry of the 15-year statute of limitations in his case.
The Bank of Thailand accused Pin of collaborating with two others to embezzle Bt2.127 billion from his Finance One Group in 1996-97.
Praphan yesterday said prosecutors had tried their best to locate Pin and to seek his extradition.
He said that when public prosecutors learned Pin was staying in Hong Kong, they coordinated with Hong Kong police to arrest him but Pin fled to the United States. Then, prosecutors sought help from the US to arrest Pin. US officials went to his apartment only to find that Pin had left for the United Kingdom.
Praphan said prosecutors coordinated with British police, who arrested Pin in London. Charges were filed against him in Bow Street Magistrates Court, which ruled in favour of extraditing Pin to Thailand.
Pin appealed the ruling and the British Court of Appeals ruled in his favour on grounds that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Pin had violated British laws warranting extradition. The case could not be appealed to the Supreme Court.
"That was the judgement of the British court, but it was not a failure of [Thai] public prosecutors. We have done our best. It was just a procedural issue," Praphan insisted.
But critics said public prosecutors made a blunder in the translation of the suit that was sent to the British Court of Appeals, prompting the court to rule in Pin's favour. Critics said the public prosecutors use the term "theft" instead of "unlawful reaping of personal benefits".
In the Appeals Court's written judgement, Lord Justice Paul Kennedy and Justice Michael Harrison said there was insufficient evidence to commit Pin on any of the charges remaining against him. There was no evidence of dishonesty and no basis for a charge of theft, they said.