Prosecutors postpone decision on FFP skywalk protest

Prosecutors postpone decision on FFP skywalk protest

Thanathorn and colleagues asked to return on March 17 for decision on 'flash mob'

Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit arrives at the District 6 Prosecutors Office on Friday for the decision on the skywalk protest on Dec 14 last year. The decision on an indictment was deferred. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit arrives at the District 6 Prosecutors Office on Friday for the decision on the skywalk protest on Dec 14 last year. The decision on an indictment was deferred. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

Prosecutors have postponed their decision on whether to indict Future Forward Party (FFP) leaders over the Pathumwan skywalk protest rally on Dec 14 last year.

Kritsadang Nutcharat, lawyer for FFP leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, announced the deferral after his client and four other people met with prosecutors on Friday, when a decision was due.

He said the state had rescheduled its decision to March 17. Prosecutors needed time for further investigation and additional evidence for the decision.

Mr Thanathorn, former FFP candidate for Nakhon Pathom Pairatchote Chantarakhachorn and three other activists - Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak, Thanawat Wongchai and Nutta Mahattana - had been ordered to meet prosecutors on Friday to hear the decision at the District 6 Prosecutors Office in Pathumwan district. 

They must now report again on March 17.

Three FFP MPs also accused by Pathumwan police are currently protected by parliamentary immunity -  party secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, spokeswoman Pannika Wanich and list-MP Pita Limjaroenrat. They will hear the charges against them after the session ends later this month.

Police charged them all with failing to inform police of the "flash mob" gathering in advance, as required by the public assembly law, blocking the skytrain station, hindering pedestrians’ right of way, using megaphones in public without permission, and holding a rally within 150 metres of a royal residence.

On Dec 13 Mr Thanathorn publicly called on his supporters to rally at the skywalk the next day, after the Election Commission asked the Constitutional Court to disband the party for accepting a 191.2-million-baht loan from him to finance its election campaign. The EC said this was a violation of the organic law on political parties. The ruling on the case is scheduled for Feb 21.

Mr Thanathorn on Friday asked that four additional witnesses from the protest scene be questioned, so they can counter the police charges.

The accused have denied the charges against them.

Ms Nutta suspects there was a political motive behind the allegations. They were raised shortly before a student-organised run on Jan 12 calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

She said the additional accounts would defend their participation on the grounds that the rally was peaceful and there was no need to inform authorities in advance.


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