Charter Court rules Thamanat qualified to serve as MP

Charter Court rules Thamanat qualified to serve as MP

Heroin prison sentence in Australia 'not binding' in Thailand

Deputy Agriculture Minister Thamanat Prompow answers questions about his murky past while in Australia, raised by a House panel, in September 2019. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Deputy Agriculture Minister Thamanat Prompow answers questions about his murky past while in Australia, raised by a House panel, in September 2019. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Thamanat Prompow is qualified to be a member of parliament and a cabinet member regardless of his being sentenced to four years in prison in Australia in 1994, the Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday.

The court's ruling was in response to a petition forwarded by House Speaker Chuan Leekpai, as requested by 51 MPs of the Move Forward Party.

Mr Thamanat, a former army captain, is a Palang Pracharath Party MP for Phayao and Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister.

The opposition MPs in May last year filed a petition with Mr Chuan, seeking a Constitutional Court ruling on Mr Thamanat's eligibility to sit as an MP and to hold a cabinet portfolio as he was sentenced to four  years in prison in March 1994 by an Australian court in a heroin smuggling case.

They wanted the charter court to rule whether Mr Thamanat should be disqualified as an MP under Sections 98 and 101 and a cabinet member under Sections 98, 160 and 170 of the constitution because of the jail sentence.

The Constitution Court ruled that a jail sentence which could lead to Mr Thamanat's being disqualified as an MP and a cabinet member under the constitution must be made by a court in Thailand, not a foreign court.

The sentence handed down by a New South Wales court in Australia had no legal binding in Thailand.

Therefore, Mr Thamanat is still qualified to be an MP and a cabinet member under the Thai constitution, the court ruled.

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