Thanathorn to fight 'flash mob' charges

Thanathorn to fight 'flash mob' charges

Embattled FFP chief and four others deny breaking public assembly law

Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit talks to supporters before entering the Pathumwan police station on Friday to hear charges relating to the rally he staged on Dec 14 at Pathumwan intersection in Bangkok. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit talks to supporters before entering the Pathumwan police station on Friday to hear charges relating to the rally he staged on Dec 14 at Pathumwan intersection in Bangkok. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit on Friday vowed to fight charges laid against him by police for orchestrating an anti-government rally last month

The party frontman reported to Pathumwan police on Friday afternoon to hear the charges laid in connection with the "flash mob" gathering on the skywalk at the intersection on Dec 14.

Mr Thanathorn and four others, including former Nakhon Pathom election candidate Pairatchote Chantarakhachorn, met with the police on Friday. Others facing charges include party secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, spokeswoman Pannika Wanich and party-list MP Pita Limjaroenrat.

The five are accused of breaking the public assembly law by failing to inform police of their plans in advance, blocking a mass-transit station, failing to control rally participants and using loudhailers in public without permission from authorities. A fresh charge of holding a rally within 150 metres of a palace was laid on Friday.

Mr Piyabutr, Ms Pannika and Mr Pita are protected by parliamentary immunity due to their status as MPs, as parliament is still in session. They have said they would report to police to hear the charges later on Friday after the budget debate in the House concludes.

Mr Thanathorn said after meeting with police officers for two hours that all five denied the charges and would fight until the end.

The police told them to return on Feb 3, the day that investigators will forward the case to public prosecutors.

The Future Forward leader posted a Twitter message before going to the police station to say that he would not be intimidated by the charges.

“If we do not give up, they will never steal our dreams,” he wrote alongside a video showing the rally as well as images of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong.

The rally was called after the Election Commission decided to ask the Constitutional Court to disband the FFP for accepting a 191-million-baht loan from Mr Thanathorn to finance its campaign. The court has accepted the case and Future Forward is in the process of submitting its defence.

Of more immediate concern for the party, however, is a Constitutional Court ruling scheduled for Jan 21 in another case. It is based on a complaint filed by Natthaporn Toprayoon, a lawyer and former adviser to the chief ombudsman. He accused the party of conspiring to overthrow the constitutional monarchy, among other allegations. If the court upholds the complaint, the party could be dissolved.


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