Former Thai speaker convicted of vote-buying, disqualified

July 8th, 2008 - 8:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangkok, July 8 (Xinhua) Thailand’s Supreme Court Tuesday convicted the former speaker and deputy leader of the country’s ruling People Power Party (PPP), Yongyuth Tiyapairat, of bribing officials during the last general election and disqualified him as a member of parliament. The court took two hours on Tuesday afternoon to read out the verdict, which upheld an earlier ruling by the Election Commission (EC) to disqualify Yongyuth as an MP.

Yongyuth was found guilty of bribing a group of local administration heads in Mae Chan district of his home province Chiang Rai in northern Thailand during last December’s general election to ensure the victory of his sister La-ong, who contested as a MP candidate.

Yongyuth, who won a seat in the 480-member parliament as a PPP candidate in the Dec 23 general election, was elected as the speaker following his party’s victory.

Earlier, Yongyuth had denied the charges levelled against him but resigned from his post on April 30 after the Supreme Court accepted the case.

Besides stripping off his membership from parliament, the court also slapped on him a five-year ban to contest any election.

The conviction of Yongyuth, as a former party leader of PPP, will also give ground to the EC to appeal before the apex court to dissolve his party, which is now leading the six-party coalition government.

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