EC chief upbeat on dealing with malfeasance charges related to Pita’s case
Election Commission chairman Ittiporn Boonprakong on Thursday expressed confidence that the EC would be able to defend itself against corruption allegations over its decision to seek disqualification of Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat as an MP.
Ittiporn was commenting on a lawsuit filed by a lawyer, Yongyuth Saokaewsathit, against seven EC commissioners and the secretary-general of the EC Office at the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases on August 3.
Yongyuth filed the lawsuit after the EC asked the Constitutional Court to disqualify Pita as an MP for allegedly holding shares in iTV Plc, a media firm.
Among other allegations, the EC was accused in the lawsuit of abusing its authority in making its decision in Pita’s iTV share case, and alleged wrongdoings in organising the May 14 election.
On August 8, the court asked both the plaintiff and the defendants to provide more information before the court makes a decision on September 25 as to whether to proceed with the trial or not.
The court asked the EC to answer eight questions about Pita’s iTV shareholding and its organising of the election.
Ittiporn said he had not seen the order of the court for the EC to explain eight points yet, but the EC Office is making preparations to respond to the questions.
Ittiporn said he was not under pressure to answer the questions but he could not answer on behalf of other commissioners. He said the full EC has yet to consider the answers to be submitted by the EC Office.
The questions to the EC are:
▪︎ Whether the EC has responded to Pita’s letter of opposition, which Pita submitted to the EC on May 26?
▪︎ Whether the EC had carried out a fact-finding probe into the allegations that Pita held 42,000 shares of iTV?
▪︎ Whether the EC had allowed Pita to explain the issue or not, if not why not?
▪︎ how long did it take the EC to gather evidence before making a decision against Pita?
▪︎ Whether the agency took into account the Supreme Court’s ruling on May 2 that annulled the EC’s decision to disqualify another election candidate, Charnchai Isarasena, a Democrat MP? The EC had earlier disqualified Charnchai as a candidate for holding AIS shares.
▪︎ It asked the EC to explain whether it had earlier checked Pita’s qualification regarding media shareholding, as Pita was an MP after the 2019 election?
▪︎ How does it explain finding out about the shareholding after the results of the May 14 election were known?
▪︎ Whether it had crosschecked with the Business Development Department about Pita holding shares, and if not, why it had not done so?
When asked by reporters on Thursday whether the EC had checked Pita’s shareholding before allowing him to run, Ittiporn replied that the EC had followed the same process as it had with over 5,000 candidates nationwide.
He explained that the EC had sent questions to all government agencies concerned whether they had information about possible reasons for disqualification of candidates. He said no agency had informed the EC about Pita holding the shares in iTV.
Apart from asking the Constitutional Court to disqualify Pita, the EC also plans to file a criminal charge against him under Article 151 of the election act.
Ittiporn said the EC Office had received the report of an EC investigative committee. The EC Office would pass on the report to a sub-EC committee to review before the case would be sent to the commissioners to making a final decision as to whether to pursue the case in the Criminal Court, the chairman said.