Ex-FFP trio charged over skywalk rally
Two former executives and an MP of the dissolved Future Forward Party (FFP) on Monday answered charges stemming from a public rally at the Pathumwan Skywalk on Dec 14 last year.
They are Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, Pannika Wanich, and Pita Limjaroenrat. Mr Piyabutr was the FFP secretary-general, Ms Pannika party spokeswoman, while Mr Pita was a party list-MP. He is now leader of the Move Forward Party, which most FFP MPs transferred to.
They were accompanied by lawyer Kritsadang Nutcharat who said all three denied any wrongdoing.
The five charges were conspiring to hold a public gathering without notifying authorities, obstructing access to and from an electric train service, failing to prevent disturbances by participants in a public space, using a loudspeaker in public without permission and illegally holding a gathering within 150 metres of a royal palace.
Speaking after a meet police investigators, Mr Piyabutr said he still believed in freedom of expression.
He said he once believed the public gathering law would benefit demonstrators, but in reality it now does more harm than good and has made it even more difficult to get permission to stage public gatherings.
That was the why his group did not ask for permission for the Dec 14 gathering, he said.
Mr Pita described the case against him and the others as an attempt to abuse the law in a political game to bar new faces entering politics.
However, he said he wasn’t discouraged , saying the right to gather peacefully in public is guaranteed under the constitution.
Having to hear the charges on Monday was time wasted as he could be working to help in the fight against the spread of Covid-19. His new party is to organize a meeting with opposition whips to discuss proposals advising what the government should do to contain the virus.