Appeal Court Upholds Death Sentence Against Banyin

On Thursday, the Court of Appeal upheld the Criminal Court’s death sentence against former deputy commerce minister Banyin Tangpakorn for the murder of a billionaire businessman in a 2015 staged car accident.

The court said all evidence reviewed supported the Phra Khanong Criminal Court’s 2021 ruling against the former MP, who faces charges of conspiring to murder billionaire construction company owner Chuwong Sae Tang.

As the ruling was read, the former Nakhon MP was in Bang Kwang Central Prison. The former politician was sentenced to life in prison for reportedly conspiring to kill Mr. Chuwong and hiding the crime to evade prosecution.

Mr. Chuwong’s sister Wanpen Thanathammasiri said that she was satisfied with the Court of Appeals’ decision after a seven-year-long and tough fight to seek justice for her younger brother.

According to Ms. Wanpen, the case became complex because there were no witnesses, and the defendant was well informed about the law because he had served as a police officer. She also said that she was ready to fight the case in the Supreme Court if necessary, but it is unclear if Mr. Banyin plans to take further action.

Mr. Chuwong’s sister also thanked the police from the Crime Suppression Division, the Central Police Forensic Science Division, and other experts for working hard on the case.

Ms. Wanpen was one of the plaintiffs, besides  Mr. Chuwong’s widow Sirirat Sae Tang and public prosecutors. They first filed their complaint against Mr. Banyin in 2015, shortly after the fatal accident on June 26 that same year.

The Court of Appeals and the Criminal Court found that Mr. Chuwong did not die in the car accident but was murdered. Forensic evidence showed that the victim had been killed and pointed to Mr. Banyin as the crime’s intellectual author.

However, when questioned, the former deputy commerce minister insisted the crash was an accident. He told police that Mr. Chuwong was sitting in his car’s front seat after the two had dinner together in Bangkok but was killed when the vehicle crashed into a tree.

Preliminary investigations showed that Mr. Banyin’s motive for murdering the businessman could be related to a huge amount of shares in his firm, which was illegally transferred to the former politician before being given to two women emotionally linked to him.

Mr. Banyin is also serving a life sentence for a case involving Wirachai Sakuntaprasoet, the brother of Phanida Sakuntaprasoet, the judge who handled Mr. Chuwong’s case.

The man was kidnapped and killed by four men, including Mr. Banyin, outside the Southern Criminal Court in 2020 in an attempt to pressure the judge to drop the case.