CSD seeks Watana's arrest for 'rebellion'
Denies whipping up Yingluck crowd
published : 28 Jul 2017 at 04:12
newspaper section: News
Arrest warrants are being sought for Watana Muangsook, a Pheu Thai Party key figure and former commerce minister, and two other suspects on suspicion of provoking rebellion, a source said Thursday.
The suspects were found to have been inciting people to come to a gathering planned for Aug 25 when the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions is due to hand down a ruling in the rice-pledging case in which former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra is charged with dereliction of duty, said the source.
Their acts are deemed a violation of Section 116 of the Criminal Code, said the source.
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A police team from the Special Branch Bureau filed charges Thursday with Crime Suppression Division (CSD) police against the three. They asked the CSD police to issue arrest warrants for them. They were assigned by Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, a deputy national police chief.
In a series of messages posted on his Facebook page from July 19 to July 26, Mr Watana criticised the government and urged members of the public to come out to support Ms Yingluck, also on Aug 1 when she is due to verbally present her final statement in the rice-pledging case to the court, said the source.
The CSD police are questioning the team lodging the complaint and compiling evidence to support a request for the warrant, said the source.
Mr Watana said on Thursday he has never posted any message urging Ms Yingluck's supporters to turn up at the court.
Mr Watana said he only posted a message that he would show up himself at the court on July 21 to boost Ms Yingluck's morale. That was the date when Ms Yingluck testified before the court as a defence witness.
"I am a legal expert. I know how to write and post a message that does not violate laws. I have my permanent address and police also have my cell phone number. They should have phoned me to inform me of what my offence is, instead of choosing to file charges against me.
"I am ready to meet them if they call me. I am ready to answer all of the police's questions. Seeking a warrant to arrest me without talking to me is against the law," Mr Watana said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the Legal Execution Department's (LED) confiscation and seizure of the money in Ms Yingluck's bank accounts isn't part of the criminal case being pursued against her in the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.
The assets seizure and bank account suspension are administrative measures being implemented by the LED, while in the criminal case, the court is due to hand down a ruling on Aug 25, he said. Her supporters should not mix these cases up with one another, Gen Prayut said.
"Please don't attempt to falsely link these two matters with one another and exploit such distorted information to justify a move to bring people to gather [at the court]. They are accusing the government of bullying [Ms Yingluck] by seizing her assets," he said.
Ms Yingluck has been ordered by a government-installed panel to pay 35.7 billion baht in compensation for her alleged dereliction of duty in the rice-pledging scheme that reportedly cost the government five times this amount after farmers were paid above-market prices.
The ex-premier is also fighting a criminal charge of dereliction of duty in the rice scheme at the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions. Ms Yingluck petitioned the Administrative Court on July 19 to issue an injunction against the order to confiscate her assets.
This shows Ms Yingluck is still free to seek justice against the order to seize her assets, said Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, when asked to comment on Ms Yingluck's move.
Last September, the committee pursuing civil liabilities against wrongdoers in the state sector announced Ms Yingluck was liable to pay compensation of 35.7 billion baht for her role in the scheme that led to huge losses during the 2013-14 rice crop.
Gen Prawit said he wasn't worried about what might happen on Aug 1 when Ms Yingluck is due to verbally present her final statement, and again on Aug 25 when the court is to hand down the ruling.
He said he has assigned the police and the military to ensure law and order. He admitted talks had been held with leaders of the groups intending to come to the court.
Noppadol Laothong, a lawyer representing Ms Yingluck in this case, said his client on Monday received a letter from the LED informing her about the suspension and confiscation of her assets.
Ms Yingluck has also received a letter from the Bangkok Bank saying the bank had frozen seven bank accounts and withdrawn the cash as ordered by authorities, said Mr Noppadol.
He had petitioned all concerned parties to suspend their action pending the court's consideration of Ms Yingluck's petition against the assets seizure order.