BANGKOK — Army commander-in-chief Apirat Kongsompong on Tuesday filed a defamation complaint against an outspoken anti-military politician, a source inside the military said.
The army chief, who’s sowed a reputation of a staunch junta supporter, accuses Seri Ruam Thai Party leader Seripisut Temiyawet of defaming him under Computer Crime Act when he harangued a soldier who was monitoring his campaign Monday.
In the confrontation, which was filmed and posted online by the party, the former police commissioner called out a soldier and scolded him for stalking. Seripisut, who retains the rank of police general, mentioned “army commanders,” though he did not name anyone.
“You live on my taxes. Don’t bother me here. I’m not bothering anyone. Understand? Okay? Go tell your commanders, too,” Seripisut said to the lone soldier at a Prachinburi province campaign event. “They should do their duty in defending the country instead of bothering the people.”
The party leader also reminded the unnamed soldier that he was outranked.
“You can bother with other people, but not me. I’m a police general. Learn some respect,” Seripisut said in the video.
Seri Ruam Thai is an opposition party centered around Seripisut – the name can be read to mean “Seripisut Unites Thais” – that campaigns on decreasing military spending and moving army bases outside the capital.
It was unclear where Gen. Apirat filed his complaint. It’s the second legal action taken by the military against Seripisut since he announced to run for the premiership on a platform solely consisting of blasting the junta and the armed forces.
In December, junta spokesman Winthai Suvaree filed a similar charge of Computer Crime Act against Seripisut for suggesting the regime intends to stay in power after the election. He responded by calling Winthai “a little kid” and countering with a charge of filing false complaint against the junta.
Less than three weeks away from Thailand’s first election in five years, legal threats are piling up against opposition parties that want to return the country to civilian rule.
A deputy leader of the Future Forward Party and several others were charged Monday for sharing a story deemed bogus, one of several active criminal cases against the party’s top figures.
The Thai Raksa Chart Party aligned with fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra faces being disbanded for having nominated a former princess to be prime minister.