Court rules for alleged casino boss

Court rules for alleged casino boss

The Criminal Court on Friday dismissed gambling and money laundering charges against Somchai Jutikitdecha, also known as Longjoo Somchai, and three alleged accomplices.

The court said there was insufficient evidence to substantiate the charges against Mr Somchai and the three others who were accused of running illegal casinos in Chon Buri and Rayong and laundering the proceeds.

Mr Somchai was arrested at his home in tambon Muang Phra in Rayong’s Muang district in February last year after police raided 10 locations in the eastern province to suppress an illegal gambling network.

Police suspected he was a major operator of illegal casinos in the eastern part of the country that were blamed for helping spread Covid-19. Rayong was the epicentre of a new Covid-19 wave in December 2020.

The four defendants were indicted for allegedly arranging illegal gambling activities and laundering money with their operations covering numerous locations in Chon Buri and Rayong. They denied the charges and were released on bail pending the trial.

At yesterday’s hearing, the court said it reviewed evidence from both sides and found that police and prosecutors failed to present credible evidence to back the allegations made against the four.

The court said it found the evidence submitted by the defendants to be solid, so dismissed the charges.

Prosecutors said they planned to appeal the ruling but will thoroughly study the court’s decision and review all evidence before proceeding.

Mr Somchai and the three others declined to give an interview and left immediately after the hearing.

Mr Somchai was also being prosecuted in connection with the alleged contract killing of a taxi motorcyclist Prathum Sa-adnak, 47, who was shot dead behind Muang Pattaya 8 School in Pattaya on July 28, 2020.

The Criminal Court dismissed this case on Nov 10, but the ruling is being appealed.