Anti-govt trio to be prosecuted on sedition charges

Anti-govt trio to be prosecuted on sedition charges

Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit (left), Piyabutr Saengkanokkul (centre) and Pannikar Wanich (right) talk to reporters after hearing sedition charges against them at Phaya Thai police station in Bangkok on Nov 5, 2020. (Photo from Piyabutr Saengkanokkul Facebook)
Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit (left), Piyabutr Saengkanokkul (centre) and Pannikar Wanich (right) talk to reporters after hearing sedition charges against them at Phaya Thai police station in Bangkok on Nov 5, 2020. (Photo from Piyabutr Saengkanokkul Facebook)

The attorney-general has approved the prosecution on sedition charges of political figures Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul and Pannikar Wanich.

The Office of the Attorney-General on Wednesday announced that  attorney-general Naree Tantasathien had made the final decision after police disagreed with public prosecutors' previous decision to dismiss the case.

The attorney-general supported the prosecution of the trio for alleged seditious violation of the constitution. She ordered police to proceed with the case for their arraignment. The process included a complete police interrogation of the three suspects.

The sedition case was brought by former yellow-shirt activist Suwit Thongprasert, formerly known as Phra Buddha Isara.

The three accused acknowledged the charges in November 2020. Mr Thanathorn is the former leader of the disbanded Future Forward Party and a subsequent founder of the Progressive Movement. Mr Piyabutr is the co-founder of the movement and Ms Pannika is its spokeswoman. They were also key figures of the opposition Future Forward Party.

The police earlier asked prosecutors to press sedition charges against the three for allegedly inciting political gatherings in October 2020.

Mr Suwit had cited an academic article by Mr Piyabutr written when he was a university lecturer and published in a newspaper to support the sedition allegation. Mr Piyabutr's posts about reform of the monarchy were another reason for the allegation.

Mr Thanathorn is charged over raising issues involving the state budget for the monarchy.

In Ms Pannika's case, the accusation centres on her Facebook Live broadcasts from protest rally sites.

Mr Thanathorn said on Wednesday that the three of them were ready to defend themselves against the charges. He said attempts were being made to cripple their political movement.

The trio have already been banned from politics.

Sedition carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.


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