Prosecutors are unlikely to indict Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit for applying to be an MP knowing he was not qualified as accused by the Election Commission, according to their spokesman.
Although they have yet to formally announce their decision — they on Thursday delayed it to May 25 — spokesman Ittiporn Kaewthip said the decision would not run against the Constitutional Court’s ruling on his media-shareholding case.
Mr Ittiporn declined to give details, saying the prosecutors would explain more when the decision is formally announced.
But although prosecutors would not charge him, there are two more steps involved during which the decision could be overturned. The police chief may disagree with the prosecutors’ decision and send the case to the attorney-general, who will have the final say.
If the criminal case proceeds and Mr Thanathorn is convicted, he will face imprisonment of 1-10 years and a fine of 20,000 to 200,000 baht.
The case was a result of the Constitutional Court’s ruling
in November 2019 that the former leader of the Future Forward Party had shares in a media company when his party submitted to the Election Commission the names of its list MP candidates in which he came first.
Having shares in media companies is prohibited under the MP election law.
The Constitutional Court ruled he had violated Section 151 of the MP election law because in its view he still held shares in a media company when he applied to become an MP.
It disqualified him as MP. Since Mr Thanathorn has already been suspended from duty pending the court’s decision, the effective date for his disqualification dated back to May 23, 2019 when he was suspended.
Following the court ruling, the EC proceeded with a criminal case against him by accusing him of breaking the MP election law with Thung Song Hong police in April last year. Police sent the case to prosecutors in January this year. Mr Thanathorn denied the charge.
Mr Thanathorn, 42, already lost his political rights for 10 years in another case.
The Constitution Court ruled in February 2020 to dissolve the Future Forward Party and revoked the rights of its 16 executives, including him, to run as MP candidates, for 10 years. The court found his lending of 191.2 million to his party was illegitimate.
Immediately after the decision, Mr Thanathorn, together with Piyabutr Saengkanokkul and Pannikar Wanich, formed the Progressive Movement to move forward their political agenda.
The group has sent candidates to contest at several local elections.