Suu Kyi’s government barred from commenting on ruling by military court that appeared to clear path for impeachment
The Thai junta has been banned from commenting on a court ruling that appears to pave the way for its deputy leader, General Prem Tinsulanonda, to be charged with trying to overthrow the monarchy.
The controversial court ruling granted bail to an 88-year-old lawyer accused of slandering the country’s new king. The criminal court also raised another constitutional charge against Prayuth Chan-ocha, the military leader who ousted the last government last year.
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Prime minister Prayuth said on Sunday the ruling “had nothing to do with me”.
“I am not involved in this matter and am not getting involved in it,” he told reporters after returning from a trip to India, where he attended a summit.
The court is seen as a bastion of military authority, and so the ruling appeared likely to reinforce the junta’s stance against the judiciary.
The prime minister’s spokesman, Col Winthai Suvaree, said the prime minister had not commented publicly since the ruling on Thursday because “the issue needs to be discussed within the government”.
The prime minister has already issued veiled threats to the courts over the previous adjournment of an impeachment hearing against Prayuth, which is scheduled to resume on 4 August.
Judges had earlier removed the focus of the impeachment hearing on the controversial drafting of the military-inspired constitution. That document is seen as being a key component of the junta’s power consolidation agenda to organise a May election.
The junta told the court it had grounds to investigate lawyers Meena Sailamart and Kornhum Thongnakul for slandering the prime minister, citing charges of insults to the monarchy.
In a March 2015 interview, Sailamart had said “people must respect the king, or the institution of the monarchy could perish”.
Meena, who had already been bailed, was released on Sunday on an unspecified bail amount that was far lower than what the prosecution said was required.
Prayuth, who remains head of the junta, faces an impeachment hearing on Wednesday. He is being charged over charges of abuse of power brought against the then prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, by the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly.
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The National Human Rights Commission said it would continue to look into other potential cases, but did not say if it would take further action against premiers.
“We have reviewed the cases and they will continue to be followed up,” the spokesman Juthaporn Nermaijokkarn said, but added that the commission did not currently have the time to send complaints to relevant ministries.
On Saturday, the Thai royalist Nation newspaper called for prime minister Prayuth to step down after the court ruling, on the grounds of grounds of “irreconcilable differences” with the judiciary.
The military says it wants to reign in corruption in the palace and to ensure stability in Thailand.
But the former political foes at the heart of Thai politics have recast their differences into a vague campaign for constitutional reform.
The former premier Yingluck was ousted last year by the military-appointed legislature. She is now being investigated over a different incident, allegedly ordering troops into anti-government protests in 2010, when 14 people were killed.