Thanathorn and associates charged over 2019 rally

Thanathorn and associates charged over 2019 rally

From left Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, Pita Limjaroenrat, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Pannika Wanich and Pairattachote Chantarakajon, at the Office of Summary Litigation Region 6 in Pathumwan district, Bangkok, to hear the indictment decision on Thursday. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
From left Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, Pita Limjaroenrat, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Pannika Wanich and Pairattachote Chantarakajon, at the Office of Summary Litigation Region 6 in Pathumwan district, Bangkok, to hear the indictment decision on Thursday. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Progressive Movement, and four others from his movement and the Move Forward Party were yesterday released without bail shortly after being indicted on charges relating to a flash protest rally in central Bangkok in December last year.

Those sent for trial are Mr Thanathorn; Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, secretary-general of the group; Pannika Wanich, the group's spokeswoman; Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat; and Pairattachote Chantarakajon, a former election candidate for Mr Thanathorn's disbanded Future Forward Party.

All were present in court to hear the indictment related to their rally on the elevated BTS walkway at the Pathumwan intersection on Dec 14, 2019.

They are charged with organising the rally without giving prior notice, organising a rally that affected train services, organising a rally that blocked people from using a public place, using loudspeakers without permission, staging a rally within a 150-metre radius of a palace and resisting officials' orders to disperse.

The five denied all charges and their lawyers said they had been temporarily released without bail. The court scheduled an examination of the evidence and witness lists for Dec 22.

The Progressive Movement posted on Facebook that efforts to put politicians in jail would not end the problems that have beset the country's politics.

Mr Thanathorn himself said the arrest of rally leaders would not stop the protests.

The Dec 14, 2019 demonstration was the biggest since the 2014 coup and followed the Election Commission's decision to try to disband the Future Forward Party for accepting cash from an illegitimate source, a large loan from Mr Thanathorn.

The court subsequently dissolved the party and banned Mr Thanathorn and other members of the executive from holding political office.

Meanwhile, outspoken activist Srisuwan Janya urged the Election Commission (EC) to speed up criminal proceedings against Mr Thanathorn and 15 former executives of the Future Forward Party over the 191.2-million-baht loan that led to its dissolution.

Mr Srisuwan said the EC should take urgent criminal action against the ex-party leader and its executives since the Constitutional Court had dissolved the party many months ago.

Meanwhile, a former member of the Palang Pracharath Party, Sonthiya Sawasdee, has filed a complaint with the metropolitan police against Mr Piyabutr, accusing him of violating the Computer Crime Act and lese majeste law.

Mr Sonthiya cited Mr Piyabutr's Facebook post about the monarchy on Oct 27, saying there were many issues in the post that officers needed to inspect.

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