Thai opposition leaders given 4-month suspended prison sentence

Bangkok, Feb 5 (EFE).- A Thai court handed a suspended prison sentence and a fine Monday against five opposition politicians, including Move Forward party leader Pita Limjaroenrat, for staging an illegal demonstration in 2019, legal sources reported.

The defendants were found guilty of the crimes of illegal assembly, blocking a train station and illegal use of loudspeakers during a flashmob demonstration in December 2019 in central Bangkok, according to NGO Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. .

In addition to Pita, the Court also found Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, former leader of Future Forward – the predecessor of Move Forward – and who was suspended as lawmaker in December 2019, in addition to three other political leaders and three pro-democracy activists.

The eight defendants were sentenced to four months in prison, but the sentences were suspended for two years for being minor offenses. They must also pay a fine of THB11,200 (about $315.)

The demonstration, held on an elevated walkway in the heart of the Thai capital, occurred in protest against the Thai Electoral Commission’s decision to petition the Constitutional Court to dissolve the Future Forward Party, which ultimately occurred in February 2020.

According to the court, the sanction is due to the defendants’ failure to inform authorities about the event and the illegal use of loudspeakers, the NGO said in a statement.

Both Pita, currently a lawmaker, and Thanathorn are two of the main voices of the progressive movement in Thailand, which proposes a series of measures such as reducing the role of the military or reforming the draconian royal defamation law, which carries up to 15 years in prison for offending the monarchy.

The Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that Move Forward’s electoral promises to debate and propose changes to the law, also known as Article 112 of the Penal Code, are unconstitutional, as they amounted to an attempt to overthrow the country’s government.

The decision opened the doors for a possible dissolution of the party in the future, so Move Forward could face the same fate as its predecessor Future Forward, dissolved in February 2020 in a decision widely criticized by the international community. The issue served as a trigger for mass pro-democratic protests in 2020 and 2021. EFE


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