Thai king's former senior aide sentenced to 3 years in jail

BANGKOK (AP) " A court in Thailand on Friday sentenced a former high-ranking police officer and aide to the country's king to three years in prison for dereliction of duty and land encroachment.

Jumpol Manmai was also stripped of his retirement rank of police general, according to a statement from the royal palace. King Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun took the throne last December after the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Jumpol was dismissed last week from his duties as a grand chamberlain in the palace by an order declaring that he was unfit to hold such a senior position close to the king and had carried out "extremely evil deeds," which were not detailed. The same reasons were cited in revoking his police rank.

Thai media reported that a court in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima sentenced Jumpol on Friday to four years in prison for dereliction of duty and two years for land encroachment, but halved the sentences because he pleaded guilty. The court also ordered him to remove buildings that he owns on protected forest land and pay an 892,000 baht ($25,500) fine.

The case has attracted attention because Jumpol was seen as a close associate of the current king for many years, from when he was still crown prince.

Jumpol served as a deputy police commissioner and national intelligence chief under former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, losing the latter job when Thaksin was ousted by a 2006 military coup.

Last week, another palace insider was sentenced to prison on lese majeste " insulting the monarchy " and other charges.

Former Air Vice Marshal Chitpong Thongkum had been a medical adviser to Vajiralongkorn and was similarly fired from his position and stripped of his rank and royal decorations. He was accused of using his royal connection for personal gain and disclosing Vajiralongkorn's medical records, among other offenses.

He was sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment, but had the term halved because he pleaded guilty.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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