'Khon Kaen Model' suspect to counter-sue

'Khon Kaen Model' suspect to counter-sue

An investigation team led by police chief Gen Chakthip Chaijinda (second from left), displays a chart indicating alleged links of the nine suspects at the Royal Thai Police headquarters on Thusday. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
An investigation team led by police chief Gen Chakthip Chaijinda (second from left), displays a chart indicating alleged links of the nine suspects at the Royal Thai Police headquarters on Thusday. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

One of the "Khon Kaen Model" suspects facing an arrest warrant for a new subversion plot will file a countersuit against investigators because he has been in jail since May 2014, his lawyer said on Saturday.

Warrants for Thanakrit Thongngernperm, 49, and eight other people, were approved this week. Police acted on a complaint filed by the National Council for Peace and Order, which accused the nine of lese majeste and breaking the Computer Crime Act.

The suspects are red-shirt supporters allegedly linked to the "Khon Kaen Model", an armed movement with military training that emerged in 2014 in the northeastern province. Its key members were arrested in a crackdown by the military a day after the 2014 coup.

Police and Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, the deputy prime minister for security, told the media this week that the nine men had plotted subversion in Bangkok and assassinations of two key government figures.

Critics of the military regime are sceptical about the claim, saying it sounded like something intended to divert public attention from the corruption scandal surrounding the military-backed Rajabhakti Park.

Police chief Chakthip Chaijinda also said he had set up a joint police-military investigation team led by his deputy, Pol Gen Srivara Rangsitbramakul, which found enough evidence to prosecute the men. They arrested two men and said the rest were on the run.

However, Benjarat Meethien, a lawyer, told Prachatai on Saturday that counsellors for the accused found Thanakrit had been imprisoned at Khon Kaen prison since May last year for his alleged role in the Khon Kaen Model after the 2014 crackdown.

His bail was later approved but he was not released because his ex-wife had charged him with forging documents for the sale of her car.

Thanakrit was pronounced guilty in the document forgery case and sentenced to two years in jail. He has since been imprisoned.

"In short, Thanakrit has been in jail uninterruptedly for 18 months. So it's impossible he could have been involved in the new [Khon Kaen Model] case," Ms Benjarat told Prachatai.

She said her team met n Saturday with Thanakrit who authorised them to represent him in a countersuit against officials in charge of the case for causing damage to him. They plan to file the countersuit on Sunday.   

The Khon Kaen Model movement pledged to protect former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra when her government was being threatened by street protests bent on toppling her in 2013-14.

The military claimed they were plotting unrest in four steps: mobilising people; negotiating for security officials to disarm themselves; negotiating with military officers; and destroying financial institutions and giving money to the poor.

At the time, police said that if the alleged Khon Kaen Model operation was successful, other provinces, especially in the North, would follow.

The aborted plan was reportedly scheduled to be carried out on May 24 last year, two days after the coup.

Twenty-six people were arrested on May 23 last year and were first tried at the Khon Kaen military court on Oct 21 last year. Prosecutors filed nine serious charges against them, which they all denied. Seven of them were granted bail shortly after due to health issues. The other 19 remain in prison.  

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