Amnesty dishonest, Nitirat group claims

Amnesty dishonest, Nitirat group claims

More respectable ways can be found to restore ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's integrity and assets than by passing an "unconstitutional" blanket amnesty, the Nitirat group said yesterday.

Worachet Pakeerut, a core leader of Thammasat University's Enlightened Jurists Group, known as Nitirat, said his group had proposed the amnesty as a solution to the political stalemate, but the suggestion was not aimed at helping Thaksin.

The group suggested that legal action brought since the 2006 coup, including that stemming from the Asset Scrutiny Committee's probes, and trials such as Thaksin's assets seizure case be annulled.

Nitirat has previously shown support for the ruling Pheu Thai Party but has opposed its efforts to amend the amnesty bill tabled by Pheu Thai's Samut Prakan MP Worachai Hema.

His bill would have granted an amnesty to protesters, except protest leaders and officials who ordered the deadly 2010 crackdowns. Thaksin would not have benefited as the coverage was not wide enough.

But a revised version of the bill proposed by Pheu Thai's Maha Sarakham MP Prayuth Siripanich would grant a blanket amnesty to everyone charged in connection with recent political violence, including Thaksin.

Mr Worachet said the new version of the bill could be unconstitutional because it was not in line with the version approved by the House in the first reading in August.

He said the ruling party could still save face by voting down the bill in the second reading, which began yesterday, and set up a "committee of the whole House" to re-examine the Worachai bill section by section.

He also asked why the amnesty bill does not cover those charged under the Criminal Code's Section 112 known as the lese majeste law, since such a condition contradicted the principle of people's liberty.

"The amnesty is supposed to deal with types of offences that are connected to the political conflicts since the coup. So how do the lawmakers know that charges brought under Section 112 were not also tied to the conflict?" he said.

He also said restoring justice to those whose rights and assets were stripped away by the coup should be done more honestly, not via a short-cut and unconstitutional means such as the blanket amnesty bill.

Piyabut Saengkanokkul, another Nitirat member, said the revised bill has changed the time span which will be covered for an amnesty, from Sept 19, 2006 (the coup date) to May 10, 2011.

The revised bill now extends the amnesty for the period from Jan 1, 2004 until Aug 8, 2013 which covers many more incidents. This might cause complications in identifying which cases were connected to the crackdown, and which were not, he said.

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