Govt eyes defamation case against MFP after Thamanat ruling
The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry says it will file a defamation lawsuit against the Move Forward Party (MFP) over its harsh criticism of the prime minister following a Constitutional Court ruling on whether Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thamanat Prompow was qualified to serve in the cabinet.
DES Minister Chaiwut Thanakhamanusorn said on Friday that the MFP's Facebook page posted a comment by its secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon who harshly criticised Prime Minster Prayut Chan-o-cha following the court ruling.
Mr Chaiwut said the DES's legal team would file a complaint with the police, asking them to take legal action against the MFP and its secretary-general for defaming the prime minister and the government.
"This may also constitute a violation under the Computer Crime Act,'' he said.
On Wednesday, the court ruled that Capt Thamanat, a Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) MP for Phayao, is eligible to hold his party and government positions despite having served four years in an Australian prison after doubts were expressed by the public when the story of his incarceration in 1993 for a drug offence first broke.
The ruling, which was in response to a petition submitted by 51 MFP lawmakers over his cabinet appointment, stated that for a jail sentence to affect Capt Thamanat's position as an MP and cabinet member, the constitution mandates it must have been handed down by a Thai, not a foreign court.
As the sentence was handed down by a New South Wales court in Australia, it is not legally binding in Thailand, it said.
However, Mr Chaithawat said on Friday the MFP will petition the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to investigate Capt Thamanat over his ethical conduct anyway.
The petition is expected to be submitted to the NACC before parliament resumes normal sessions by the end of this month, he said.
However, NACC deputy secretary-general Niwatchai Kasemmongkol said that a probe into someone's ethical conduct can be launched only when an MP or cabinet minister violated the code of ethics while in office.
Any action that was committed by a MP or a cabinet minister before they took office does not warrant a probe, Mr Nitwatchai said.