BANGKOK — Future Forward Party MP candidate Rangsiman Rome refuted accusations on Thursday that party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit helped him flee from a police station following an anti-coup protest in 2015.
Rangsiman, then a fourth-year law student at Thammasat University, said he went to Pathum Wan police station in June 2015 to file a complaint that he and many other student activists were physically attacked by police and security officers at an anti-junta rally outside the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre.
Rangsiman said that while waiting for a taxi on his way home, then businessman Thanathorn showed up in a van and offered a ride.
“I did not flee. I didn’t think I fled,” said Rangsiman on the phone on Thursday.
Rangsiman reasoned that Thanathorn could not have thought he was fleeing a criminal charge, because Rangsiman himself only learned afterwards that he was charged with violating the junta’s ban on political gatherings for participating in the BACC rally.
The comment came after Thanathorn revealed yesterday that he has been charged with sedition. Junta legal officer Col. Burin Thongprapai said the charge was filed because Thanathorn aided Rangsiman and around 20 others flee from the police station in June 2015 before they were arrested.
Deputy police chief Gen. Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul on Wednesday denied that the charge was politically motivated, saying the charge came four years after the rally because the case had changed hands several times.
“It’s not about the elections or about discrediting anyone,” Srivara said, adding that there’s enough evidence to try Thanathorn. Srivara urged supporters of Thanathorn not to break the law if they plan to show up on Saturday at the police station.
Thanathorn formerly served on the board of Matichon Group, the parent company of Khaosod English.
Rangsiman said the account was false and that he and his fellow activists had not been aware of any such arrest warrant that night.
Krisadang Nutcharut, Thanathorn’s lawyer, insisted that his client did not help anyone flee. He said by phone Thursday that he will show written proof on Saturday, when his client appears under police summons to hear the sedition charge, that Rangsiman and his fellow activists went to the police station to press a complaint.
“Police also said they could leave [that night],” Krisadang said.
If convicted of sedition, Thanathorn could face up to seven years in prison.