Thammanat Calls Off Lawsuit Against Rival Who Branded Him ‘Drug Convict’

A file photo of deputy agriculture minister Thammanat Prompao

BANGKOK — A minister backed off from his threat to sue a politician who accused him of heroin trafficking at the last minute on Thursday.

Although a lawyer for deputy agriculture minister Thammanat Prompao had said he would file a libel lawsuit against Seri Ruam Thai Party leader Sereepisut Temiyaves at a court in Bangkok this morning, no representative from the embattled minister showed up. The attorney later said the lawsuit would not be filed today.

Citing reports from Australian media, which were based on court documents, Sereepisut has lashed out several times at Thammanat for his 1993 drug trafficking conviction in Australia.

Read: Thammanat Threatens to Sue Aussie Paper for Drug Allegation

Thammanat spent four years in prison before being released and deported in 1997, court documents published by the Sydney Morning Herald show.

Sereepisut has not only seized the exposé to attack the government for enlisting Thammanat as one of its cabinet members. He has gone as far as to claim he tipped off Australian media to Thammanat’s past conviction, though he has not cited any evidence to back up his claim.

“If I were Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, I would have resigned already, because he appointed this man as a minister without scrutinizing him first,” Sereepisut said. “This government is full of evil people.”

Thammanat denied the allegations and said he would sue anyone who repeated the media reports about his past conviction, but Sereepisut said he was not afraid.

“How could a drug convict sue an innocent man?” Sereepisut said on Sep. 11.