Police willing to use lese majeste law against protesters

Police willing to use lese majeste law against protesters

Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawichai, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau. (File photo)
Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawichai, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau. (File photo)

Police would use the lese majeste law against protesters if they were instructed to, Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawichai, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB), said on Thursday.

Pol Maj Gen Piya was responding to questions about Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's warning that the government would use "all laws and all articles" against protesters escalating the political conflict.

The protesters' demands include limiting the political power wielded by the monarchy.

Gen Prayut did not specifically refer to Section 112, the lese majesty law, which carries harsh prison penalties.  

Pol Maj Gen Piya said he had not yet looked into the details of the prime minister's statement, but if it included using the lese majeste law then police would do their duty and not be worried about it. 

He said the prime minister had eased off and set up committees to find a way out of the conflict, but the protesters had rejected that and kept violating the law. Their actions were increasingly violent, the deputy Bangkok police chief said.

Gen Prayut said in a statement issued on Thursday that the government and security agencies would intensify their response to the increasingly violent protests by "using all laws and all articles" against demonstrators who break the law and show no respect for the rights of other people. 

Pol Maj Gen Piya said whether Section 112 of the Criminal Code would be used or not depended on the behaviour and intention of the protesters. Firecrackers and laser beams were recently used during anti-government rallies. Police would take action against all kinds of offences. 

He insisted police were not taking sides against any group.

Asked about the violence at Kiak Kai intersection on Tuesday, he said they had information that a man wearing a pink raincoat, and believed to be a guard for the anti-government group, had fired shots at people gathering on Thaharn Road.

Police investigators were still gathering evidence, Pol Maj Gen Piya said.

Six people suffered gunshot wounds during the violent confrontations, which involved police, anti-government protesters and rival supporters of the monarchy wearing yellow.

Police were prepared to deal with the next rallies, planned for Nov 21 and 25, he said. 

On June 15, Gen Prayut issued a warning to those involved in what he termed an anti-monarchy movement, but said His Majesty the King had shown mercy and told him not to use the lese majeste law against them.

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