PM given 15 days to save job
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PM given 15 days to save job

Court wants all evidence in before July 10 hearing

Srettha: Submitted defence on June 7
Srettha: Submitted defence on June 7

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday ordered all parties involved in Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin's ethics case to submit evidence within 15 days with the court scheduled to consider the case again on July 10.

The court said on Tuesday that those involved are asked to provide their opinions and evidence related to the topics specified by the court within 15 days to assist its consideration of the case.

While the court will meet again to deliberate on July 10, it remains unknown whether the court will hand down a ruling on that day, which will leave the government on tenterhooks at least until then.

The case against Mr Srettha concerns the controversial appointment of politician Pichit Chuenban as a PM's Office minister in the last cabinet reshuffle. It was initiated by a group of 40 senators who accused the prime minister and Pichit of breaching cabinet minister ethics and asked the court if the pair should be removed from office under Section 160 (4) and (5) of the constitution, which deals with the ethics of cabinet ministers.

They argued that Pichit was unfit to assume a cabinet post because he served time in jail for contempt of court during a bribery case when he represented Thaksin Shinawatra in a controversial land case in 2008.

Mr Pichit resigned from the post just before the court accepted the petition in what was seen as a bid to spare Mr Srettha from a legal wrangle. The court rejected the case against Pichit because he had already stepped down but agreed to hear the case against Mr Srettha who submitted his defence to the Constitutional Court on June 7.

Legal specialist Wissanu Krea-ngam, who was appointed as an adviser to the prime minister, said on Tuesday the premier's legal team submitted only one witness in the list handed to the court.

The person was Natjaree Anantasilp, the cabinet's secretary-general, because she knew the entire process, he said. However, he declined to share the details of the prime minister's defence because the court had yet to consider the matter.

Mr Wissanu said the prime minister's defence covered the issues of ethical standards and integrity, noting the terms had their own definition in the constitution and there was a process to follow when accusing a politician of breaching them. "I think ethical standards or integrity will be a key point in the court's consideration. You can verify if someone goes to jail or is convicted. But you can't examine ethical standards or integrity without a specific process," he said.

The former deputy prime minister said it would be quite dangerous to say someone was dishonest under the constitution without a process to examine it because that person would remain disqualified for life. Under the charter, other organisations are also given responsibility for looking into such issues.

He said the court's decision in Mr Srettha's case would set a precedent but he had no idea when the ruling would be made.

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