BANGKOK — Former leaders of the now-disbanded Future Forward Party reported to police Thursday to hear charges of insurrection filed against them by an ultraroyalist – including one case that involved an academic lecture made 10 years ago.
The complaints were brought against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, and Pannika Wanich by hardline royalist Suwit Thongprasert who accused them of committing seditious acts by posting contents deemed to incite unrest on their social media platforms, as well as other actions.
Speaking to reporters after acknowledging the charges at the Phayathai Police Station, Piyabutr said some of the actions cited in the complaint by Suwit, better known as former activist monk Buddha Issara, dated back to a decade ago when Piyabutr was teaching law at Thammasat University.
“Suwit cited the articles and lectures I made when I was a professor,” Piyabutr said. “It’s been over 10 years already, but it was linked to the current situation. I found the speech as a gesture of goodwill to find a solution, but it turned out to be an offense in Suwit’s eyes.”
He added, “This would be no good for the monarchy since the matter would be discussed in the court.”
Bangkok police commander Phukphong Phongpetra reportedly oversaw today’s interrogation and questioned the trio himself. Piyabutr said Thanathorn and Pannika were charged for making a speech about royal spendings.
Pannika said the sedition charge under Article 116 of the Penal Code is a “failed tactic” employed by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s government to silence its opposition.
The charge, which has been used against leaders of the pro-democracy protests in recent months, carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.
“This is a weapon the government is using against the dissidents,” Pannika said. “It’s a dud bullet since it doesn’t make us stop. Instead, we received more support and empathy from the people.”
The three denied all the allegations.
In a related development, activist Patsaravalee “Mind” Tanakitvibulpon also went to Thung Maha Mek Police Station this morning to hear sedition charges associated with the rally in front of the German Embassy on Oct. 26.
Deputy metro police commander Piya Tawichai said 13 people connected to the recent protests have been charged with the same offense. 68 individuals have also been charged with violation of the Emergency Decree to date, Gen. Piya said.