Defiant Thanathorn braces for 'flash mob' case

Defiant Thanathorn braces for 'flash mob' case

Future Forward Party leader Thanathonr Juangroongruangkit is greeted by supporters during an anti-government protest on the skywalk of Pathumwan intersection on Dec 14, 2019. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Future Forward Party leader Thanathonr Juangroongruangkit is greeted by supporters during an anti-government protest on the skywalk of Pathumwan intersection on Dec 14, 2019. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Prosecutors will decide this Friday whether to launch legal action against Future Forward Party (FFP) leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and four party members for organising a protest at the Pathumwan Skywalk in Bangkok late last year.

The anti-government "flash mob", which gathered near National Stadium skytrain station on Dec 14, hit trouble because organisers failed to inform police of their gathering in advance, as required by the public assembly law.

Pathumwan police on Monday asked prosecutors to consider the allegation as well as four other charges – blocking the skytrain station, hindering pedestrians’ right of way, using megaphones in public without permission and holding the rally within 150 metres of a royal residence, Kritsadang Nutcharat, Mr Thanathorn's lawyer, said.

The four other suspects are Pairatchote Chantarakhachorn, Parit Chiwarak, Thanawat Wongchai and Nutta Mahattana.

Three party lawmakers who were also summoned to answer charges — secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, spokeswoman Pannika Wanich and party-list MP Pita Limjaroenrat — are currently protected by parliamentary immunity. They will hear the charges when summonsed by police after the parliamentary session ends this month.

Mr Thanathorn on Monday insisted again that he and his colleagues had done nothing wrong and he is not worried about the charges.

He accused the authorities, or what he called “the dictatorship”, of using laws to frighten his party and its supporters, who are opposed to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's prolonged stay in power following his coup in 2014.

“This is not a time to feel afraid,” Mr Thanathorn said. “It’s a time to show our courage to fight against unjust power.”

The flash-mob rally was called by Mr Thanathorn after the Election Commission petitioned the Constitutional Court to disband the FFP for accepting a 191.2-million-baht loan from him to finance its election campaign, alleging a violation of the organic law on political parties.

On Nov 20 last year, the same court disqualified Mr Thanathorn as an MP after ruling he had failed to transfer his shares in a media company when he registered his candidacy for the March general election.



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