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Last Updated: Friday, 26 March, 2004, 16:13 GMT
Thai politician's son acquitted
Duangchalerm Yoobamrung (left) with Chalerm Yoobamrung
Duangchalerm was flanked by his father as he left court
A Thai court has acquitted a high-profile politician's son of murdering a policeman who was shot during a nightclub brawl.

Duangchalerm Yoobamrung, who is the son of the former justice minister, Chalerm Yoobamrung, was cleared of all charges.

The court ruled that the prosecution had presented insufficient evidence and conflicting witness testimonies.

The case enthralled the nation and was seen as a test of whether the rich and powerful could evade justice.

Correspondents say the verdict is likely to cause public anger.


Four other co-defendants, including Duangchalerm's elder brother, Wanchalerm, were also acquitted of charges related to the shooting.

But the court sentenced Wanchalerm to a one-month suspended jail term and a 1,000 baht ($25) fine for assaulting a security official.

The shooting took place in the favourite haunt of the MP's three playboy sons and their friends, after one man trod on another's foot and a brawl ensued.

The defendant disappeared after the shooting, sparking one of Thailand's biggest manhunts in years.

Public scandal

Duangchalerm was charged in his absence, in 2001, with shooting police sergeant Suvichai Rodvimut in the head at point blank range while other men held him down.

He surrendered himself to the Thai embassy in Malaysia after six months in hiding.

The scandal surrounding the incident caused Duangchalerm's father, a veteran politician, to lose his job as the deputy leader of the New Aspiration Party, which is a member of the ruling coalition.

Chalerm Yoobamrung supported his son throughout the case and even launched a magazine, to counter what he called biased media coverage.

After the verdict he said: "I respect the court judgement and will have my son ordained to be a monk for two months."

Enrolling as a monk for a brief period of time is a common practice for men in Thailand.

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28 Dec 01  |  Asia-Pacific

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