Pheu Thai MP told to step aside
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Pheu Thai MP told to step aside

Anurak: Faces bribery allegation.
Anurak: Faces bribery allegation.

The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office-Holders has ordered the suspension of Anurak Tangpanitanon, Pheu Thai MP for Mukdahan, from his MP's duties after it agreed to hear a petition accusing the lawmaker of demanding bribes from a groundwater department official.

The move is in line with the organic law requiring a lawmaker accused by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) of committing gross misconduct to stop performing his or her duty after the court accepts a case.

In accepting the petition, the Supreme Court said there are sufficient grounds for the court to hold an inquiry and the NACC has complied with the procedures. According to the court, the accused must stop performing his duties until a ruling is delivered unless the court says otherwise.

In its petition, the NACC has also asked the court to strip the MP's election rights, including the right to contest an election for 10 years, if he is found guilty.

The court has scheduled an evidence examination on Feb 10.

The NACC's petition is related to a bribery investigation against the opposition MP, who is accused of demanding bribes from Sakda Wichiansilp, director-general of the Department of Groundwater Resources, in exchange for not trimming the department's budget allocation.

The alleged offence took place when Mr Anurak served as a member of a House sub-committee reviewing the budget set aside for the department worth 1.2 billion baht. The panel sought to integrate the national budget, which required trimming some allocations.

According to the NACC, Mr Anurak is found to have violated Section 149 of the Criminal Code and Section 123/5 of the anti-corruption law and committed a serious breach of the ethical code.

Earlier, Mr Anurak denied any wrongdoing and said he repeatedly questioned Mr Sakda over the department's proposed budget because he could not get proper answers.

He described the NACC's bribery allegation as false and pointed out that he and the committee members did not have a final say in budget cuts.

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