Status of legislator Sira in peril after new petition

Status of legislator Sira in peril after new petition

Charter court to rule on qualifications in light of 1994 fraud conviction

Opposition MPs believe Palang Pracharath MP Sira Jenjaka should be disqualified based on Section 98 (10) of the constitution.
Opposition MPs believe Palang Pracharath MP Sira Jenjaka should be disqualified based on Section 98 (10) of the constitution.

The Constitutional Court has accepted a fresh petition from the opposition Seri Ruam Thai Party seeking a ruling on the status of Palang Pracharath Party MP Sira Jenjaka.

Seri Ruam Thai leader, Pol Gen Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, said on Friday parliament president Chuan Leekpai had informed him in writing on Thursday that he had forwarded the petition to the court.

The petition also asked the court to order the Bangkok MP to be suspended from legislative duties pending the court's ruling.

The petition cited a past offence committed by Mr Sira as grounds for seeking the ruling. He had been convicted of fraud by the Pathumwan District Court in 1995.

The court sentenced Mr Sira to eight months in jail, but halved the term due to his confession.

According to the petition, Mr Sira's status as an MP was being challenged as Section 98 (10) of the constitution prohibits those convicted of an offence relating to assets from applying to become an MP. Mr Sira said he was confident of his qualifications and would respect the court's decision.

Pol Gen Sereepisuth said his party had gathered the signatures of 146 MPs who supported the petition. The signatures met the required number needed — at least one-third of MPs.

On Jan 7, the Constitutional Court threw out the original petition initiated by the Seri Ruam Thai Party, as the number of MPs who signed it did not meet the required threshold.

The petition was initially signed by 50 MPs, but two Pheu Thai lawmakers withdrew their names.

According to a court statement, Anurak Boonsol, Pheu Thai MP for MP Sakon Nakhon, and Arporn Sarakham, Pheu Thai MP for Udon Thani, submitted a request on Dec 29 stating that they wanted to withdraw their names from the petition.

However, the main opposition Pheu Thai Party later said it would coordinate with Seri Ruam Thai and other opposition parties to re-launch the bid to have Mr Sira stripped of his parliamentary status.

"I will wait and see if the court will order him suspended from duty. There is clear evidence [against him]," Pol Gen Sereepisuth said yesterday.

The Constitutional Court in June last year accepted a petition to rule on the qualifications of Deputy Agriculture Minister Thamanat Prompow, who served four years in prison for heroin trafficking in Australia.

The petition was submitted by House Speaker Chuan Leekpai. It is not known when or if the court will announce a ruling in the Thamanat case.

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