Police Lieutenant Colonel Banyin Tangpakorn is now facing at least two murder charges and prosecution for a range of other offences linked with the kidnap and murder of a judge’s elderly brother on February 4th last. In another case, he is also facing charges for the murder of a property developer whose car he was driving when the man was found dead in 2015. The former politician and policeman faces the death sentence in connection with today’s trial with at least one of the accomplices in the latest criminal outrage, pleading guilty to the crime and conspiracy.

An ex-minister and politician from Nakhon Sawan sentenced to 8 years in prison by a Thai court last May and facing multiple murder charges, appeared in court in Bangkok on Monday amid swirling rumours of a prison escape or his abduction from security personnel while en route to court.

Police and security agencies including the Department of Corrections undertook a massive security operation on Monday morning. Former Minister of Commerce Lieutenant Colonel Banyin Tangpakorn was transferred from Bang Kwang Central Prison to a courthouse in the Dusit area of Bangkok on Monday morning for the beginning of the examination process in a criminal trial where is facing a range of serious charges including murder and the death penalty. It comes amid swirling, yet credible reports that the former politician and policeman had been plotting to escape from the Bangkok Remand Prison in the Chatuchak area of Bangkok where he was being held up until last Thursday.

Former Thai Commerce Minister, Banyin Tangpakorn, appeared in court on Monday in the Dusit area of Bangkok to begin the examination process in a trial where he is facing up to 10 charges including murder, kidnapping and wearing a fake police uniform related to the abduction of the 67-year-old brother of a judge from another Bangkok court in early February who was taken to Nakhon Sawan province and murdered within hours.

The controversial former politician arrived at the court under the supervision of a heavily armed force of security officers who took him from a cell in Bangkok’s notorious Bang Kwang Prison and delivered him to the court at 10 minutes past eight on Monday morning.

Reporters barred from today’s legal proceedings but watched a video feed in a separate area

Police Lieutenant Colonel Banyin was observed by reporters who, under an order from the court’s service over the weekend, were prohibited from attending the proceedings. They watched it from a live video broadcast from the courtroom to a separate area.

They were also prohibited from publishing images from the hearing.

The reason for the exceptional circumstances was heightened security measures ordered by the Secretary-General of the Office of the Judiciary, Sarawut Benjakul.

This follows credible reports revealed at the end of last week and over the weekend, that the former minister had set in motion a number of plots to secure his release from Bangkok’s Remand Prison in the Chatuchak area of the city where the former policeman was being held.

Former minister transferred from Bangkok’s Remand Prison on Thursday to the notorious Bang Kwang Central Prison and held in solitary confinement

On Thursday, the Head of Thailand’s Corrections Department, Police Colonel Naras Savestanan, apprised of the threat to the security posed by the high profile inmate and former minister as well as his associates, ordered his removal to Bangkok’s notorious Bang Kwang Prison in Nonthaburi where he was placed in solitary confinement. 

Police Lieutenant Colonel Banyin is already serving a prison sentence of 8 years imposed on him by the Bangkok South Criminal Court on May 20th for a ฿300 million share fraud perpetrated on former property developer Mr Chuwong sae Tang who Mr Banyin is also charged with murdering.

Charged with multiple murders including that of a wealthy property developer in 2015

Initially ruled as an accident, the case of Mr Chuwong sae Tang’s death in 2015 was later taken over by Crime Suppression Division Police (CSD) who concluded that the businessman, whose car Police Lieutenant Colonel Banyin was driving when it was involved in a car accident, had not died in the incident but was murdered earlier.

Police investigators were also reported to have begun looking at the death of the ex-politicians wife who died decades ago in an uncannily similar incident while her husband was driving the car.

Abduction and murder of Bangkok judge’s 70-year-old brother in early February to coerce her

In May, the former politician and MP from Nakhon Sawan, was charged with the abduction of 70-year-old Wirachai Sakuntaprasert, the brother of the judge in his trial, Panida Sakuntaprasert, in an attempt to coerce her into making a favourable decision.

Judge applied to become a joint plaintiff

During today’s hearing, Ms Panida applied to the court to become a joint plaintiff in the case against the defendant and five others who are due to be examined on Thursday the 25th of June.

It is understood that at least one of the other defendants has admitted to the crime and conspiracy as well as his role in it in the hope of obtaining mercy from the court.

Defendant complained of his treatment in prison and said that he had been driven to attempted suicide

During today’s court hearing, the former minister complained that he had been treated like an animal by prison authorities and not allowed to consult properly with his lawyers, read documents or prepare for his trial.

He said that the stress of the situation, including press reports, had led him to attempt suicide by hanging himself.

His comments follow reports from security sources and the corrections department that prior to his transfer to Bang Kwang Prison that on June 10th last, the political boss from Nakhon Sawan had attempted to commit suicide at Bangkok Remand Prison but was discovered by prison officers in time.

Requested to appear in court on Thursday

He asked that he be allowed to appear on Thursday with the other defendants and to be allowed to consult with his wife and daughter in relation to the charges and evidence being presented against him.

The court suggested that facilities be established so that video teleconferencing could be used.

Over the weekend, the court had insisted that it was essential that the former policeman and politician be in court on Monday to see and receive the evidence against him in person.

This followed an application by Police Colonel Naras and the Department of Corrections, to have Mr Banyin appear by teleconference facilities from his solitary confinement cell in Bang Kwang Prison where he was moved on Thursday.

Dramatic reports emerged last weekend of multiple plots by Banyin to break out of prison

Dramatic details emerged at the end of last week that Mr Banyin was plotting a breakout and escape from the Bangkok Remand Prison where he had previously been held.

One report suggested that a bomb was to be thrown into the prison and he was to be spirited away using a helicopter.

The plot was first revealed after the Crime Suppression Division Police received intelligence.

42-year-old inmate arrested after former minister helped get him bail from the inside through a lawyer

This led to the arrest of 42-year-old Suthon Thongsir, also known as ‘Joe’. Mr Suthon had just been released on bail from the prison where he was being held facing criminal charges.

Police learned that Mr Suthon’s release on bail had been orchestrated indirectly by Mr Banyin through a lawyer.

Told to kidnap the wife of the prison governor

After this, details emerged of a plot to abduct Mr Banyin while on his way to court or returning to prison. 

Mr Suthon was also told to make plans as an alternative including a proposal to kidnap the wife of the prison governor to use as leverage against the prison boss to allow the escape of the high profile inmate.

There are also reports that Mr Banyin may have intimated this to the prison governor himself as a threat.

Politician’s son linked to the escape plots

A 30-year-old man, Nattapon Norakarn, was also brought in by police after being linked with the plot.

This man was linked to the son of a politician who police are now seeking to question and give evidence.

It has also been revealed that Banyin instructed Mr Suthon aka ‘Joe’ to approach a Nakhon Sawan MP seeking help with the plot but the current politician rebuffed him and refused to get involved in the affair and instead cooperated with authorities.

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Further reading:

Former minister pleads not guilty to chilling abduction and murder of judge’s older brother in fraud case

Former Thai Government minister arrested – linked to kidnap and suspected murder of judge’s brother

MP transferred to Bang Kwang prison and placed on death row as court orders him to resign his seat

Pheu Thai MP sentenced to death for the murder of a man he believed had an affair with his wife in Khon Kaen

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