Criminal Court dismisses rebellion charges against Thai coup-makers

The criminal court has refused to take legal action against the Thai junta leader and his associates for staging a coup d’état against the former elected administration and the former constitution.

According to Post today Online, at around 11 am on Friday, Bangkok’s Ratchada Criminal Court dismissed rebellion allegations against Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, Adm Narong Pipatanasai, the Royal Thai Navy Chief and Education Minister, Gen Tanasak Patimapragorn, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, the Royal Thai Air Force Chief and Transport Minister, and Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew, former chief of the Royal Thai Police.

The court reasoned that according to Section 48 of the Interim Charter, people who took part in staging the coup d’état on 22 May 2014 to topple the executive power of the country and the 2007 Constitution cannot be held responsible. Therefore, no legal action can be taken against the Prime Minister and his associates.

On 22 May, Sirawit Serithiwat, a student activist from Thammasat University, Pansak Srithep, a pro-democracy activist and the father of a boy killed by the military during the 2010 political violence, Anon Numpa, a human rights lawyer who volunteers for Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), and Wannakiet Chusuwan, a pro-democracy activist and taxi driver, the four embattled members of Resistant Citizen, an anti-junta activist group, filed charges under Article 113 of the Criminal Code against Gen Prayut and his associates.

According to Article 113 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, whoever commits an act of violence or threatens to do so in order to overthrow the constitution, legislative, executive, or judicial power, seize administrative power or attempts to separate the kingdom, shall face the death penalty or lifetime imprisonment.

In the charge, the group also condemned the junta leader for the imposition of martial law and subsequently Section 44 of the Interim Constitution, which continues to restrict the freedoms and rights of Thailand’s citizens in the name of national security.

The junta unashamedly engaged in nepotism at various levels of governance to cling to power and further their economic interests, the group’s statement added.

Last month, the four were charged with defying the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 7/2014 for holding a political gathering of more than five people on 14 February. If found guilty, the four could be jailed for one year and fined up to 20,000 baht.

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