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Motorcycle star pleads not guilty to money laundering


Motorcycle racing star Akarakit “Benz Racing” Worarojcharoendet and two others pleaded not guilty on Monday in a high-profile money-laundering case heard at Bangkok’s Ratchadapisek Criminal Court.

The court judge set a total of 14 sessions – from July 3-25, 2018 – to hear testimony from the prosecutors’ 20 witnesses and the defendants’ 17 witnesses. 
Akarakit, 30, Sansern Rasanont, 25, and Angsuporn Inna, 29, were presented to court as they were indicted for the alleged laundering of drug money and conspiring with suspect Nattapon Nakkham, 31, and others to launder money on behalf of alleged Lao drug kingpin Xaysana Keopimpa, 42. 
Akarakit’s actress wife, Napapa “Patt” Tantrakul, was also in court, along with their five-month-old baby boy and relatives, to give moral support. The couple both had tears in their eyes as they looked at each across the courtroom. 
It was the first time Akarakit had been seen by his whole family since his May 26 bail application was rejected and he was taken directly into detention. 
Sansern and Angsuporn, who is pregnant, have also been in detention and met with their relatives in court on Monday.
It is alleged that the trio opened bank accounts to keep and to wire to others drug money totalling Bt11 million as per Natthapon’s orders on 53 occasions. Akarakit is also alleged to have used money from Natthapon to buy a Lamborghini and some expensive motorbikes. 
In another courtroom at the same time, Natthapon pleaded not guilty to money-laundering and drug-trafficking charges during the first evidence-reviewing session of his case. 
The judge granted the postponement of an evidence-reviewing session to October 2 as per the prosecutors’ request, because they wish to bring another suspect, Thepprasit Toyaem into the case. Thepprasit had been arrested and would be indicted on August 17, the court heard.
Napapa – who prosecutors had last week spared from indictment in the current money-laundering case – also appeared in court early on Monday morning to report for the conclusion of her final detention period. A smiling Napapa told reporters she had thanked the court and public prosecutors for their mercy. 
The 30-year-old actress said she would request the return of the Bt500,000 she deposited as bail. 
Napapa had been named as the fifth suspect in the Narcotics Suppression Bureau investigation, but prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to implicate her. They said the 18 financial transactions made from April 2016 to February, in which Akarakit wired funds to Napapa’s account, were in amounts that could be regarded as a husband simply taking care of his wife.
The actress’s lawyer said it was up to the national police chief to accept or reject the decision not to indict her in line with due process.

Published : August 07, 2017

By : Kesinee Taengkhieo The Nation