Constitutional Court chief orders probe into ‘leak’ of witness’ statement
The Constitutional Court president has ordered a probe into the leaking of a "statement" of a key witness in the case of the tenure of suspended prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Chaowana Traimart, secretary-general of the Constitutional Court, said on Wednesday that the court president, Worawit Kangsasitiam, was concerned over the circulation on social media of what appeared to be a written statement of Meechai Ruchuphan, former chairman of the now-defunct Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC).
Chaowana declined to confirm whether the leaked statement was a real copy of Meechai’s statement.
“I can’t confirm it because I saw only the copy circulated in social media,” Chaowana said.
The rumoured statement from Meechai was widely shared among Facebook users. In the “leaked” document, Meechai purportedly stated that Prayut’s PM tenure would count from April 2017 when the current Constitution was promulgated. If so, Prayut’s eight-year tenure would expire in April 2025.
On August 24, the court accepted the opposition’s petition for a ruling on whether Prayut’s eight-year tenure ended on August 24. The opposition argued that Prayut had become the prime minister of an interim government on August 24, 2014 following the May 22, 2014 coup.
Meechai was among three persons the court had demanded written statements from for consideration in the case. The two other statements came from Prayut and Pakorn Nilprapun, former secretary of the CDC.
Chaowana said the probe would focus on how a document has been leaked after it was submitted to the court and it did not focus on the authenticity of the document.
“The Constitutional Court president is extremely sorry about the leaked document although the court does not know how it happened. The court president saw that the leak affected the person who gave the view and affected the parties in the conflict,” Chaowana said.
Chaowana confirmed that the court has scheduled a special meeting on Thursday but the meeting would not result in a ruling in the case.
He said the judges would simply decide whether statements from the three persons would be adequate for deliberations in the case.
He said the fact that the court had scheduled a special meeting on Thursday did not mean that the judges were speeding up the case to help anyone as speculated by certain critics.
Chaowana said the meeting was scheduled in accordance with normal procedure that started when the court accepted the petition for review.
“I hereby affirm that the nine Constitutional Court judges are free in their work. No one knows how the ruling will be and no one knows whether the submitted documents are adequate or not. It’s too early to say the judges already have a ruling on their mind,” the secretary-general added.