Former Pheu Thai MP Chaovarin gets 2-year jail term for fraud

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BANGKOK, Dec 20 – Thailand’s Criminal Court on Friday sentenced former Pheu Thai member of parliament Chaovarin Latthasaksiri, 65, to two years in jail without parole for fraud related to selling “Jatukam Ramathep” talismen.

Mr Chaovarin, an outspoken ruling party politician from Ratchaburi, was released after the Court accepted Bt200,000 cash as collateral for bail bond, pending the process to appeal the verdict.

The former lawmaker was found guilty of publishing an advertisement in several newspapers during May 1-June 30, 2007, soliciting the general public to buy “Jatukam Ramathep” talismen which he claimed to have passed sacred religious rites at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew, a royal chapel) and at the City Pillar Shrine (Lak Mueang)in the capital.

The court considered evidence and testimonies from witnesses, and found that his claim was untrue as he never asked the Royal Household Bureau for permission to hold religious rites for the “Jatukam Ramathep” talisman.

He received permission from the Royal Household Bureau to use the Temple of the Emerald Buddha for another purpose.

The Court initially sentenced him to three-year imprisonment but commuted the jail term by one-third to two years with no suspension.

Mr Chaovarin presided over the making of 40,000 reproductions of the talisman and offered to public for Bt199 each (about US$6).