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Fugitive politician Vatana’s second son dies while in exile

Veteran politician Vatana Asavahame went into shock on Friday after learning his son Chonsawat had died suddenly and unexpectedly, a close friend of the family said.

It was the second son Vatana lost since he fled Thailand 15 years ago. Chonsawat’s elder brother Poonpol died in 2015.

Vatana was informed of Chonsawat’s death in the early hours of Friday, soon after the 54-year-old political figure was pronounced dead, Deputy Agriculture Minister Sunthorn Pansaengthong said.

Vatana, 86, a former deputy interior minister, has lived in self-imposed exile since 2008. He left the country shortly before the Criminal Court was scheduled to read its verdict in a corruption case against him.

In 2018, the Supreme Court sentenced him in absentia to three years in jail for land procurement fraud in connection with the 23-billion-baht Klong Dan wastewater treatment project, one of the largest and longest-running corruption cases in Thai history.

Fugitive politician Vatana loses second son while in exile

Sunthorn, a politician from the Pak Nam faction led by the Asavahame clan, said on Friday that he talked to the bereaved father earlier in the day.

He did not say, however, how he contacted the fugitive.

Chonsawat, president of the Samut Prakan Chamber of Commerce, was rushed to hospital on Thursday after losing consciousness due to heatstroke during a race-car practice at Chang International Circuit in Buri Ram.

He was pronounced dead early on Friday.

Sunthorn said Chonsawat died from heart failure, saying “someone close to Chonsawat” told him the deceased suffered from heart disease.

Chonsawat was viewed as the patriarch of the Pak Nam faction in the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, though he held no political position at the time of his death. He led a political dynasty founded by his father.

The bathing rite for Chonsawat’s body was held at 4pm at his home in Samut Prakan. A chanting ceremony is scheduled for 7pm. A daily chanting ceremony will be held from April 3 to 8.

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