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Thailand’s Deputy Minister Thammanat Denies Being Gang Member

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BANGKOK – Thailand’s Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompow has gone into denial mode after being outed as a heroin smuggler. Thammanat has denied being a key member of a heroin smuggling gang in a 1993 as reported by Australian news.

Australian news media reported Thammanat had been convicted and jailed for four years in 1993 for conspiracy to import heroin. They also reported he was deported after being released.

Thammanat told a briefing in July a different version of the story and challenged everyone to check it with the Australian court. Some people knew about his jail time in Australia but no one knew the details of the case until now.

In his version of the story, he was detained for eight months for being in the same room as some drug dealers.

Australian news however discovered court documents, stating he was a key gang member. The court documents also reported he had confessed in exchange for a reduced penalty.

On Tuesday, Thammanat said he had already explained everything about the case and questioned the motive of the reports.

“There must be a reason for rewriting old news so comprehensively and I know what it is. But I have to handle this by myself,” he said. However, Thammanat evaded the question of whether he was detained for eight months or jailed for four years. “It’s part of what I had agreed with the Australian court and I’m not at liberty to say,” he said.

Thammanat Threatens to Sue Accusers

He claimed to know the network behind the report and had told his lawyers to take civil and criminal action against it.  “Isn’t it strange that all of sudden the Australian newspapers attacked me out of the blue?”

He also denied having admitted to the crime. “I’ve never confessed. And I’ve never committed the crime as reported.”

The 53-year-old politician said he was not the mastermind. “From now on I won’t respond to anyone who talks about my past. I’ll just take legal action against them.”

Asked about the SMH’s statement the report was based on court documents, Capt Thammnat flatly said: “I don’t believe it.

“Earlier, I was contacted by Michael Ruffles of The Sydney Morning Herald, and told him this was old news. He sent me several emails.

We have to check to which network Michael belongs,” he said. Referring to the group of people in Thailand he believes wanting to discredit him.

“From now on, I won’t talk anyone about this matter and will move on to work for the people.”

He also jokingly challenged his alleged adversaries to “open up their faces and exchange punches”.

“Let’s not hide. I didn’t mean to literally pick a physical fight but let’s talk openly instead of digging into the past.

Do we really want to sink in the past or live with the future?”

Asked whether he would resign, Thammanat answered it with a question. “Why would I do that? A man like me lives with reality,” he said. Referring to his previous accusations that his opponents were “avatars” who exist mainly online and never show their faces.

“This is a personal affair. It doesn’t affect the cabinet’s image. Let’s see how well I can serve the people and the country.”

Source: Bangkok Post