MPs to keep House immunity clause

MPs to keep House immunity clause

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul is one of the three Future Forward Party MPs joining the Skywalk on Dec 14, 2019. (Bangkok Post photo)
Piyabutr Saengkanokkul is one of the three Future Forward Party MPs joining the Skywalk on Dec 14, 2019. (Bangkok Post photo)

Government MPs will vote to maintain parliamentary immunity for three Future Forward Party MPs facing charges in connection with the flash mob on the Skywalk at Pathumwan intersection in Bangkok last month.

Wirach Ratanasate, chief government whip, said key government figures have agreed to abide by Section 125 of the charter involving immunity for lawmakers and MPs are expected to vote to retain the clause when the issue is up for deliberation in the House of Representatives.

He said government whips discussed the issue after the Royal Thai Police (RTP) sent a letter to the House to inform it of the investigation against the three FFP MPs -- Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, Pannika Wanich and Pita Limjaroenrat -- who were recently summoned to hear the charges against them.

Mr Piyabutr is the FFP secretary-general and Ms Pannika the party spokeswoman.

According to Mr Wirach, Section 125 accords immunity to lawmakers while the House is in session. Police may seek the House's permission to proceed with legal action, but those requests are usually rejected.

He said that in this case the government whips agreed to adhere to the principle and coalition MPs are expected to abide by the decision. "Legal proceedings can resume after the current parliament session ends on Feb 28," he said.

However, Mr Wirach said if the three FFP MPs want to waive their immunity in order to fight the charges, they can ask the House to lift their immunity.

Last Friday, FFP leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit along with four other people reported to Pathumwan police station to acknowledge the charges against them over the Skywalk rally.

The other four were FFP member Pairatchote Chantarakhachorn as well as activists Parit Chiwarak, Thanawat Wongchai, and Nattha Mahattana.

According to police, the rally organisers violated 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 megaphones in public without permission from authorities.

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