Thai cops want to prosecute leader of anti-junta party
BANGKOK Thai police on Wednesday said they were seeking the prosecution of the leader of a new political party over a speech he made that was posted on Facebook criticising the ruling junta, just about a month before a general election.
The legal action against Mr Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, 40, and two colleagues in the Future Forward Party, which has attracted the support of young voters, will add to concern that the military is determined to retain a hold over politics, even after the return of civilian rule in the March 24 vote.
"We will send the case for prosecution and the suspects to the attorney-general," Police Lieutenant Colonel Krit Seneewong Na Ayutthaya said.
Mr Thanathorn, an auto parts billionaire and newcomer to the political scene, and his two colleagues could be jailed for five years under the Computer Crime Act for "uploading false information" in a speech posted on Facebook in June last year.
The Future Forward Party has denied the charge, saying the points made in the speech were public information.
"It's obvious as the election approaches, the case is being rushed ahead... We're ready to face whatever challenge comes our way," Mr Thanathorn told reporters at a rally.
Hundreds of young people turned out for the rally. Most took pictures and videos of Mr Thanathorn.#SaveThanathorn was trending on Thai Twitter.
Next month's general election is the first since a 2014 military coup. While the vote is being highly anticipated by political parties and voters, some grumble that a new constitution, drafted under military supervision, will ensure the generals will retain a significant role in politics.
Mr Thanathorn has been critical of military rule, recently pledging to prosecute coup-makers and amend the new constitution. - REUTERS