Courts to try cases even when defendants absent

The Thai cabinet has passed a bill allowing courts to try cases where the defendant is absent. A human rights lawyer argues that the measure aims to facilitate the prosecution of fugitive ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.  
On 13 September 2016, the cabinet approved a bill to amend the Criminal Procedure Code. According to Sansern Kaewkamnerd, spokesperson of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the amendment will allow criminal courts to try cases even when defendants are not present in court, reported Prachahat.
The amendment has been criticised by Anon Nampa, a human rights lawyer and anti-junta activist. He posted on his Facebook account that the amendment’s main purpose is to prosecute ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra and other political suspects who have fled the country.
“The junta is going to amend the law to allow for rulings without defendants. This is an attempt to prosecute Thaksin and those who have fled the country. Go with that -- ruin the justice system even more,” reads Anon’s post.
But Sansern said that this amendment will enable the courts to finish a number of pending cases where there have been “runaway defendants”. The amendment also prohibits the lawyers of fugitives from appealing cases for their clients. Defendants will have to do this themselves.
The prohibition, however, does not apply to defendants who do not show up to court for health reasons. The cabinet has submitted the amendment to the Office of the Council of S
Sansern Kaewkamnerd


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