Court defers decision on Abhisit rank row challenge

The Administrative Court has deferred a decision on whether to accept Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva's petition against Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat's order stripping him of his military rank for judicial review.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, right, talks toalawyer asheprepares to give a statement to the Administrative Court in response to Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat’s order to strip his military rank. TAWATCHAI KHEMGUMNERD

After hearing oral arguments from Mr Abhisit and ACM Sukumpol for more than four hours yesterday, the court told them to submit more documents on Monday.

The case involves ACM Sukumpol's order revoking the opposition leader of his military rank and recalling his salary on the grounds that Mr Abhisit used fraudulent documents to apply for and obtain a job as a lecturer at Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy. The teaching job exempted Mr Abhisit from military conscription in 1987. Mr Abhisit filed a petition with the Administrative Court and both were summoned to give statements to the court yesterday.

In a press interview, ACM Sukumpol said yesterday the order was not politically motivated or intended to discredit the opposition leader.

"The no-confidence debate is still on. If I didn't have confidence [in the evidence], I wouldn't come," he said.

ACM Sukumpol declined to discuss what he said was a key piece of evidence justifying his order.

The defence minister was accompanied by Lt Gen Pinit Chatsathienpong, deputy chief of the Secretariat Department.

Lt Gen Pinit said the hearing was preliminary and the court wanted to consider more documents to decide if the case merits the court's intervention.

Mr Abhisit declined to discuss details of the hearing. "It isn't as exciting as the upcoming censure debate," he said.

Meanwhile, the Pheu Thai Party yesterday submitted a petition to the Office of the Ombudsman asking it to investigate whether Mr Abhisit still qualifies as an MP after having been stripped of his military rank.

The petition was filed by Pheu Thai member Singthong Buachum and party lawyer Picha Wijitsilp.

Mr Singthong said Mr Abhisit had an ethics problem because he had stayed on as an MP despite the removal of his rank, which in effect meant he had been dismissed from military service.

Ombudsman's spokesman Raksakecha Chaechai said the office has the power to probe Mr Abhisit's ethical conduct.

About the author

Writer: Mongkol Bangprapa
Position: Reporter