[UPDATE] Constitutional Court rules all coalition MPs not guilty of holding media shares; one opposition MP found guilty

Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled that all 29 parliamentarians on the ruling coalition who have been accused of violating the rules on media shareholding were not guilty and thus will be able to hold on to their MP status.

The court announced on October 7 that they would hear and rule whether 32 MPs from the opposition parties and 32 MPs from the ruling coalition are guilty of breaching the charter’s rule on holding shares in media firms.

Of the 32 MPs from the ruling coalition, 21 are from the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) and eight from the Democrat Party. Of the 32 MPs from the opposition, 20 are from the Move Forward Party (MFP) and four from the Pheu Thai Party.

On Wednesday, the court first ruled around 3 p.m. that 29 parliamentarians on the ruling coalition will keep their MP status.

It has not ruled on the cases against three MPs on the coalition side. One of them, Waipoj Apornrat, former Palang Pracharat MP, has already been stripped of his status after he was convicted for leading Red Shirts protestors to disrupt the ASEAN Summit in Pattaya back in 2009.

The other two MPs have resigned earlier.

The court then ruled around 5 p.m. that Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, Thailand’s first openly transgender MP for MFP, has been found guilty of holding shares of two media companies, including Am Fine Production and Heads Up Production, while running for office.

The court said that even though Tanwarin, who identifies as non-binary, claims that she had transferred the shares before she ran for office, they did not see any valid evidence to those claims.

They said that there was also an attempt to cover up the fact that she was holding on to these shares at the time.

The remaining 31 parliamentarians on the opposition were found not guilty, with 28 of them were able to keep their MP status. The remaining three MPs have already lost their status along with the dissolution of the Future Forward Party.

The court’s ruling for these accused MPs on the coalition side was also different from those they gave to Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit in 2019. The former Future Forward Party Leader lost his MP status on a similar case after the same court ruled that he illegally held shares in a media company while running for office.

After the ruling, the PPRP’s legal team said the court’s decision was in accordance with the standards, as the documents that they have exclaimed to make the verdict were mainly official documents.

For example, in the case against Pada Vorakanon, PPRP MP, the shares that she was holding were of a company that has registered as a publication, but they are not in the media business; therefore, she was found not guilty by the court.

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