THE NATION December 20, 2012 1:00 am
The Ratchadapisek Criminal Court yesterday approved a Bt120,000 bail guarantee for Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi, who faces charges for allegedly authorising the export of 100 tigers to China in 2002 while he was Royal Forest Department (RFD) chief.
Plodprasop and senior RFD official Manop Laoprasert are accused of pushing through the export of 100 tigers from the Chon Buri’s Sri Racha Tiger Zoo to the Sunya Zoo in China from September 9 to December 24, 2002, without following the legal criteria, procedure and conditions. As per the Animal Exchange Law, private firms are prohibited from trading animals. Both zoos are privately owned.
After the Department of Special Investigation filed this case with the National Anti-Corruption Commission, it was discovered that this accusation had grounds and subsequently led to the public prosecutor asking the court yesterday to punish the minister. However, Plodprasop pleaded “not guilty” and set up a team of lawyers to defend him. The evidence from both sides will be reviewed on April 22.
Plodprasop said he is happy for being given a chance to prove his innocence in court after waiting for more than 10 years.