GRAFT Politicians in court for Klong Dan case

Bangkok Post 18 April 2008

High-profile politicians will be called to testify in the Klong Dan trial in which former deputy interior minister Vattana Asavahame faces power abuse charges in connection with the wastewater treatment project, a court said yesterday.

Judge M.L. Krairerk Kasemsan said 10 witnesses would be summoned to testify in the court.

They include Chart Thai leader Banharn Silpa-archa, former deputy prime minister Visanu Krue-ngam, Pracharaj party leader Sanoh Thienthong, Democrat deputy leader Trairong Suwankhiri, former Democrat secretary-general Anant Anantakul and former deputy interior minister Banyat Chansena.

The witnesses will be cross-examined on May 2, 6 and 8.

Other additional witnesses scheduled are a former Constitution Tribunal judge, a former land official and a former land surveyor.

Mr Vattana is a defendant in the case involving alleged graft in the 23-billion-baht Klong Dan wastewater treatment plant project in Samut Prakan. The case was filed with the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.

Mr Vattana showed up in court yesterday after missing four earlier appointments because of ill health.

Before the hearing, he asked the court if he could leave early and said he would give his written testimony later.

The court allowed him to testify along with the additional witnesses next month.

The court yesterday heard four witnesses.

In the Klong Dan case, Mr Vattana was accused of conspiring with eight land officials to issue fake land deeds for the 1,900-rai wastewater treatment project. Mr Vattana's indictment followed the National Counter Corruption Commission's (NCCC) findings that he was at fault in the issuance of land documents in 1992 and 1993.

The plots were allegedly sold at inflated prices to the Pollution Control Department, the project developer.