Government warns protesters, opposition not to question constitutional court ruling

Coalition MPs and members of the government, on Thursday, warned opposition parties and pressure groups not to criticize the Constitutional Court’s verdict or face prosecution.

The court said on Wednesday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha was not guilty of abuse of power and conflict of interest by staying in army housing despite retiring from the armed forces.

Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, a secretary to PM’s Office Minister, said that the opposition especially the Move Forward Party (MFP) and the student-led pro-democracy group, Ratsadon, should not try to create upheaval and respect the court’s decision.

He also thanked the court for its ruling.

“Thank you to the constitutional court for providing justice for General Prayut so that he can continue to work for the people,” he told reporters.

Thanakorn warned student protesters not to violate the court’s jurisdiction as their speeches at the rally in Lat Phrao Intersection on Wednesday could be constituted as a violation and open the protesters up to prosecution.

“They are distorting the truth to attack the government and General Prayut even though everything is in accordance with the judicial process,” he said.

“Some of the co-leaders have no respect for the law at all and if this is the case then how will the society go on…I urged the police to strictly enforce the law,” he added.

Ahead of the verdict, the Constitutional Court had released a statement saying that any vulgar or unethical appraisal of its ruling is illegal under the current constitution and could be open to prosecution.

Pareena Kraikupt, a Palang Pracharat MP for Ratchaburi, posted on her social media page on Wednesday that she will file a police complaint against anyone who criticizes the court’s decision.

After the verdict came out, student protest groups said that they would continue to protest. The groups held a rally in downtown Bangkok Wednesday evening after the ruling.

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, a student-protest leader, said during the rally that the Constitutional Court’s decisions were expected and that the court had ruled against the opposition for years.

This includes the cases against former PM Somchai Wongsawat, former PM Samak Sundaravej, and former PM Yingluck Shinawatra and the dissolution of the Thai Rak Thai Party, the People Power Party, the Thai Raksa Chart Party, and the Future Forward Party, he said.

He added that with such one-sided decisions, there is no need for the court to continue to exist.

Chaitawat Tulathon, MFP’s secretary-general, said on Wednesday that the court’s verdict was expected and it goes to show that the irregularity within the Thai judicial and political system caused by the coup of 2014 is still continuing.

“The verdict begs the question, are independent institutions now just tools for coup makers to hold on to power or tools for people in power to get rid of oppositions?” he said.

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