Case involving 'distorted' draft charter letters to be heard by military court.
A FORMER Pheu Thai MP and 10 others face charges of criminal association and of violating the referendum law after the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) filed complaints and demanded that they be tried at both civil and military courts.
The NCPO took action after security officers raided local government offices in Chiang Mai and the company of a well-known political clan on Saturday and found copies of letters “distorting” the draft charter.
Maj-General Kosol Pathumchart, chief of the 33rd Army Circle, said a legal team from the NCPO filed a complaint at the Crime Suppression Unit in Bangkok accusing the 11 individuals of violating the Criminal Code’s Article 116.
“This case is under the jurisdiction of the military court so the suspects have been summoned to the 11th Army Circle in Bangkok. The Crime Suppression Unit will take over the investigation later,” he said.
A source said the NCPO accused the 11 individuals of violating Article 116 by expressing opinions without honest intentions and for violating Article 210 due to criminal association.
Seven out of 11 suspects allegedly involved in the letters “distorting” the charter draft showed up at Kawila military camp in Chiang Mai yesterday to face interrogation.
The seven who showed up include included mayor of Tambon Chang Puak Kachen Jiakkachorn, Tharnthip Buranupakorn, Wissarut Kunanitisarn, Aim-orn Dabsok, Atipong Kammoon, Supawadi Ngam-Muang and Kobkan Sutika.
The remaining four who did not show up are Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organisation president Boonlert Buranupakorn, former Chiang Mai MP Thassani Buranupakorn, Krittikorn Photaya and Thewarat Inta.
Boonlert, who has been dismissed by the NCPO over offences related to the referendum law, is currently on an overseas trip, while security officials escorted Thassani from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
Thassani had sought to meet national police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda in Bangkok yesterday to show she was sincere after security officials raided her family’s company in Chiang Mai on Saturday. She was also hoping to ask Chakthip to release her sister Tharnthip. However, before she could meet the police, military officers showed up to escort her to the 11 Army Circle for the seven-day detention. The team was led by staff judge advocate Colonel Burin Thongprapai.
Meanwhile, Chiang Mai mayor Thassanai Buranupakorn turned at the Kalawin military camp to provide moral support to his sister Tharnthip and left.
Those who failed to surrender yesterday will face arrest warrants, while Boonlert has been told to report to the 11 Army Circle immediately after returning from overseas, Kosol said.
He added that the seven suspects would be moved from Kalawin military camp to the 11th Army Circle in Bangkok for investigation over the “distorting” letters.
Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan said police had solid evidence that Boonlert was involved in alleged offences related to referendum law, so he has been suspended from duty. He downplayed threats from the Local Administrative Organisation Association to rally against Boonlert’s arrest since he is president of the association.
Meanwhile, caretaker Pheu Thai deputy secretary-general Chavalit Wichaisut claimed that police did not have enough grounds to press charges against Boonlert under the referendum law, which was why the premier had resorted to using absolute powers under Article 44 to take action against him.
He also wondered if police were too scared to wrap up investigations against those who are allegedly involved in the “distorted” letters.
“That’s why they handed the case over to the provincial Election Commission, which then forwarded it to the central Election Commission,” he said.
Chavalit went on to say that it was unfair to detain Tharthip and Thassani using special powers, as it was not in accordance with the referendum law.
“I am concerned about the country’s image since the government is exercising special powers as the referendum draws near,” he said.
Meanwhile Wicharn Puwiharn, 48, was rounded up at a market in Ubon Ratchathani’s Phibun Mangsahan district for loudly calling on people to not vote at the August 7 public referendum.
Superintendent Pol Lt-Colonel Sopon Kruachao said Wicharn looked like he was mentally unstable, but a doctor at Phra Sri Mahapho temple insisted that he was normal after a physical check up. Police then pressed charges against him for causing disturbance.