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12,000 Thailand Inmates Set Free
Published on Aug 13, 2004 A Hong Kong woman who whipped up a media storm last year with a fabricated rape story was among 12,000 inmates released nationwide yesterday to mark Her Majesty the Queen's 72nd birthday.

So Leong-ying was immediately deported following her release, said Kanchana Keskarn, deputy director-general of the Corrections Department.

So, 30, was sentenced to one-and-a-half-years after telling police that she was raped by a tuk-tuk driver and three other men in June last year. She later admitted fabricating the story.

Kanchana said So, who served 14 months, had behaved well behind bars and was among 25,000 inmates who deserved amnesty from Her Majesty.

Justice Minister Pongthep Thepkanjana said 12,000 inmates from prisons around the country were released yesterday and 13,000 others would be gradually released over a 60-day period.

Inmates released from Bangkok prisons were each given Bt200 by the Po Tek Tueng Foundation and another Bt200 from Pojaman Shinawatra, wife of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They also received a travel bag and toiletries.

Among the inmates released was former long-serving Ubon Ratchathani MP Dusit Sophitcha, who was a member of the now-defunct Solidarity Party.

Dusit was arrested on December 28, 1990 for extorting Bt1 million and a pickup truck from Tipco Aslphat Co Ltd.

The Supreme Court upheld the lower courts' guilty verdict on September 27, 2000 and he was sentenced to four years in jail.

Some inmates also saw their terms commuted.

Those receiving commuted jail terms included Thawee Puthachan, who was convicted of masterminding the murder of Saengchai Sunthornwat, the then director of the Mass Communications Organisation of Thailand, and Jirayu Jarassathien, who was convicted of bribery in the Public Health Ministry's medical-supplies purchasing scandal.

Meanwhile, members of the public gathered at the Royal Palace yesterday to sign a well-wishers book for Her Majesty.

Former prime minister Chuan Leekpai was among the well- wishers.

Parting gift

Khunying Pojaman Shinawatra, the wife of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, donated Bt1 million for the travelling expenses of 2,909 inmates released from prison yesterday.

Each inmate was given Bt200 to pay for their trip home, Justice Minister Pongthep Thepkanjana said.

The rest of the money - Bt418,200 - will be held in reserve for other inmates to be released over the next two months, an act marking the celebration of the 72nd birthday of Her Majesty the Queen.

A total of 25,000 inmates will be released across the nation over the next two months. Twelve thousand were released yesterday.

Thaksin presided over the release ceremony of 2,909 inmates at Klong Prem Prison.Thaksin asked the inmates to remember the kindness of Her Majesty for granting them amnesty, and keep in mind the love of their families so that they would not commit crimes again.

"Anyone feeling tempted to commit a crime may write me at the PM's Office, and I'll send someone to help immediately," Thaksin said.

Thailand pardons 25,000 prisoners in honour of queen's birthday
01:51 AM EDT Aug 13

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - In honour of the Thai queen's birthday, more than 10,000 prisoners were granted a royal pardon and released Thursday in a traditional Buddhist gift of amnesty, a Corrections Department official said.

The prisoners were the first of 25,000 inmates to be released over 60 days starting Thursday as part of a merit-making ritual to celebrate Queen Sirikit's 72nd birthday, said Nathee Chitsawang, deputy director general of the Corrections Department. About 50,000 more prisoners have had their sentences reduced, he said.

The freed prisoners included some foreigners, who will be sent to immigration police to be deported, Nathee said. Further details about them were not immediately available, he said.

Among those pardoned was So Leong Ying, a Hong Kong woman sentenced to one year in jail for falsely claiming she was gang-raped near Thailand's Parliament, reported Bangkok's Ruam Duay Chuay Kan radio station.

So, who had served one year and two months of her sentence, had claimed to be a writer, and confessed to making up the rape story to gain fame by writing about it.

The pardons were granted to prisoners who had only one year remaining in their sentences, who were imprisoned for minor offences or who had shown good behaviour.

There are more than 250,000 inmates at prisons across Thailand. Prisons here are notoriously overcrowded due to a huge influx of drug convicts in recent years.

It is customary for prisoners in Thailand to be granted royal pardons to mark the birthdays of the country's revered king and queen.

Queen Sirikit was crowned at the age of 17 in 1950, when she married King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra presided over a pardoning ceremony at Klong Prem prison on the outskirts of Bangkok.

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All information is Copyright 1997 - 2006 'Foreign Prisoner Support Service' unless stated otherwise - Click here for the legal stuff