Decision on Thanathorn indictment delayed until after election

The file on Thanathorn's case has been accepted and the decision on the indictment will be made on 26 March, says the public prosecutor. 

On 27 February 2019, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Future Forward Party, along with FFP registrar Klaikong Vaidhyakarn and executive member Jaruwan Saranket, was called to the Office of the Attorney General for a hearing on a lawsuit against them for criticizing the NCPO in a Facebook Live broadcast 7 months ago.

The three were sued by Col Burin Thongprapai of the Judge Advocate General's Office, representing the NCPO, under Article 14 (2) of the Computer Crime Act for allegedly spreading false information that may threaten national security. They broadcast a programme called “Return Friday to the People” on the Facebook pages of The Future We Want and Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit on 29 June 2018.

Before he went into the hearing, Thanathorn told reporters he would like to thank everyone for being there. He would wait and see what the prosecutor will say, but he felt good and believed that there will be justice. Thanathorn said the three of them are not worried, and he still believed in the right to criticize those in power.

He also said that he is not worried that the case will affect the FFP’s election campaign, since he believes that the public will understand. The FFP is becoming more popular every day, so some people might be trying to undermine them, but he said the party will continue to work for the people.

Wichian Thanompichai, Director-General of the Department of Criminal Litigation, said that since both the press and the public are interested in this case, it has to be considered carefully. The Office of the Attorney General will set up an investigation committee, and there will be a hearing on 26 March 2019 to decide whether they will issue a prosecution order.

Before today’s hearing, there were rumours that Thanathorn, Klaikong, and Jaruwan could face detention. Prayuth Petkhun, Deputy Spokesperson for the Office of the Attorney General, said that according to procedure, there has to be a legal basis for an alleged offender to be detained during investigation, such as the possibility of flight or tampering with witnesses or evidence. There have been no such attempts in this case, and most importantly, the alleged offenders have met with the prosecutor and were released.

Wichian also said that detention was never possible for this case because there was no arrest, and the three defendants surrendered from the beginning.

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