Crime & Justice

Thai court suspends election winner as MP pending probe

Bangkok, Jul 19 (EFE).- Thailand’s Constitutional Court announced Wednesday it is accepting a complaint against Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the party that won the May 14 elections, and suspended him as a member of parliament during the investigation.

The decision was announced in full session of the bicameral parliament that plans to vote Wednesday on Pita’s candidacy for prime minister.

Despite the suspension, Pita may be nominated for the post because under Thai law the president is not required to be part of the legislature.

The court’s decision is linked to the investigation into whether Pita knowingly failed to comply with the conditions to register as a parliamentary candidate due to the possession of shares in a communication company, prohibited by electoral rules.

The complaint, raised last week by the Electoral Commission, focuses on 42,000 titles of the iTV channel, which represent 0.0035 percent of the total shares of this chain closed in 2007, which the politician administered as part of the family trust after the death of his father in 2006.

Pita now has 15 days to present his defense, but the court’s final decision does not have a set period.

If the court finds Pita guilty, he could face a punishment of up to 10 years in prison and 20 years of political disqualification.

Meanwhile, the 500 elected members of the Thai House of Representatives and the 250 senators, handpicked in 2019 by the former military junta, plan to vote for the second time on Pita’s candidacy to lead the executive.

Last Thursday, the candidate failed to reach a simple majority in the bicameral vote, mainly due to the senate’s blockade.

Move Forward, the party led by Pita that won the recent elections with 14 million votes, has among its electoral promises to reform a law that criminalizes criticism toward the monarchy, something the vast majority of the senate rejects. EFE


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