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Itthipol Khunpluem Acquitted in Luxury Condo Scandal

The Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases acquitted former Culture Minister and ex-mayor of Pattaya City, Itthipol Khunpluem, in a high-profile luxury condominium scandal. The case, involving allegations of abuse of power, was dismissed as the statute of limitations had expired.

The verdict was delivered yesterday in Rayong province, where Itthipol attended the court session. He left without making any statements to the media. The court’s decision centered on the fact that the charges, dating back to his tenure as mayor in 2008, had surpassed the 15-year statute of limitations. This case revolved around Itthipol’s approval of an illegal construction permit for Bali Hai Co Ltd, facilitating the development of the luxurious Waterfront condominium at the base of Phra Tamnak Mountain in Pattaya City.

The Attorney General’s Office had filed charges against Itthipol and nine others on August 3, 2023. However, the statute of limitations expired on September 10, 2023. Itthipol, now 50, had faced serious allegations under Section 157 of the Criminal Code, which could have resulted in a prison sentence of one to ten years. The contentious Waterfront project, which spans 2 rai (3,200 square meters) of land, includes a 53-storey condominium and a 20-storey hotel, totaling 315 units.

The development, backed by Israeli company Tulip Group, has been a point of contention among locals for obstructing scenic views from key tourist spots, as reported by The Nation. Despite the court’s ruling in Itthipol’s favor, the Waterfront complex remains under demolition orders due to its illegal permit, indicating ongoing repercussions for the controversial project.

In related news, the Central Administrative Court has fined the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and its office 5,000 baht each for concealing the results of an investigation into former Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon’s watch collection. The ruling, revealed by political activist Veera Somkwamkid on May 9, marks a significant blow to the NACC’s credibility.

Additionally, the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases has ordered the confiscation of assets worth 44.6 million baht from a former chief of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), who is accused of corruption.

Several officials and key figures attended the court session, reflecting the significance of the cases and the ongoing efforts to combat corruption and misconduct in Thailand.

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