Future Forward's Thanathorn says criminal charges against him are politically motivated

Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has denied all charges levelled against him. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit said criminal charges against him were politically motivated after the election.

The billionaire-turned-politician told United Nations representatives and foreign diplomats after reporting to police on Saturday (April 6) that the charges levelled against him related to alleged incidents four years ago.

Police have charged him with violating Article 116 of the Criminal Code by inciting unrest, violating Article 189 of the Criminal Code by helping a student activist flee arrest, and violating Article 215 for taking part in an unlawful gathering to cause disturbance in the country.

He denied all charges.

Police charged him a week after his party's surprisingly strong showing in the election, winning more than 80 seats in the House of Representatives.

"I'm concerned because the cases would be tried in a military court instead of the Criminal Court since it involves Article 116 (sedition)," Thanathorn told representatives of the UN Human Rights Commissioner, the European Union, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands.

The official who filed the complaint - Colonel Burin Thongprapai - is not a police officer but a junta representative, he said.

The sedition charge was made against not only politicians but also activists to gag them after protests against the junta over the past years.

"The regime creates a fear in society to silence us," Thanathorn told the diplomats. "I am innocent and ready to stand firm in the court. I urge all Thais and the international community to call for civil rights and to stand up for human rights for the betterment of our society," he said.

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