Without fear or favour
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Without fear or favour

An accusation about the role several judges may have played in revoking an arrest warrant against a senator accused of having links with drug trafficking rings and money laundering is the latest hot potato for the judiciary system.

If left unresolved, these doubts threaten to undermine the credibility of the system.

As such, the Supreme Court must handle this matter in a timely manner by explaining to the public how and why the criminal arrest warrant was revoked just hours after its issuance on Oct 3.

Under Thai law, senators and MPs are only granted legal immunity during parliamentary sessions.

But this warrant was issued outside of any such session, raising a number of questions. Why did the Criminal Court judge approve it in the first place? What prompted the quick revocation? Is this same standard universally applicable?

Supreme Court president Chotiwat Luengprasert acted swiftly on Monday by ordering a fact-finding committee to find out what happened within 30 days. Hopefully, the probe will be efficient, transparent and its findings made public.

In lieu of a clear explanation, rumours and flights of fancy will fill the void in the public imagination. That will inevitably end up hurting our justice system. Needless to say, no legal system or law enforcers can function without public faith in their impartiality.

The case drew media and social attention after the leak of a seven-page document appeared to show the official explanation from Pol Lt Col Manapong Wongpiwat -- sent by a member of the police investigation team to a high-ranking judge at the Criminal Court.

The leaked document reportedly provides details about the warrant-seeking process and discussions between police investigators who were summoned on the afternoon of Oct 3 to meet an "important" person as well as judges at the court.

It is worth mentioning here that four members of the police investigation team, including Pol Lt Col Manapong and his boss, were transferred to other posts immediately after they arrested Myanmar businessman Tun Min Latt for suspected narcotics offences.

Tun Min Latt is believed to have close links to Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing, leader of the Myanmar junta. This police team also accused the senator of being directly involved in Tun Min Latt's illicit drug trade -- an allegation he has vehemently denied.

So far, Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas, chief of the Royal Thai Police, has reasoned that the moves are just part of the seasonal rotation. He ruled out any irregular intervention.

Yet it must be noted that since the Criminal Court cancelled the arrest warrant in October, the RTP has not summoned the accused senator to hear any charges.

The RTP seems to be treating this case as though it were a crime committed outside the country, based on the logic that it takes longer to gather evidence and translate foreign-language documents.

But the national police chief needs to show this case will not be permanently shelved.

This matter now lies in the hands of the Supreme Court, which must clear up all of the associated doubts and regain the public's trust in the idea that everyone stands equal under the law, regardless of their social status.

Anything less, and it will become harder for people to trust the judicial system will treat every individual equally, without fear or favour.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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