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Khattiya faces recrimination

A major general, seen as an ardent supporter of expremier Thaksin Shinawatra, might be tried in a military tribunal for allegedly repeatedly tarnishing the reputation of the armed forces and getting involved with the red shirts.

Maj General Khattiya Sawasdipol is being targeted for misconduct and the investigation report has been forwarded to Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said yesterday.

"The final decision on Khattiya's fate rests with the defence minister," Sansern said.

According to the report, Khattiya committed two serious violations: ignored his duties and travelled overseas without permission to meet Thaksin in Cambodia, and smeared the armed forces as well as his superiors by making incendiary remarks in connection with the red shirts.

With regard to disciplinary action, Prawit has the mandate to order prosecution.

Under military disciplinary rules, a firsttime offender holding the rank of a twostar general or above will be exempted from serving military detention and imprisonment.

Last year, however, Khattiya was reprimanded for defying his superiors and spearheading a redshirt attack on the yellow shirts.

Since he is a repeat offender, he can no longer expect leniency and will most likely face court martial. If found guilty, he would face penalties ranging from suspension to dismissal.

It still remains to be seen if Prawit will press criminal charges to be tried in civilian courts.

Meanwhile, Khattiya showed up at the redshirt rally yesterday accompanied by about 200 discharged volunteer rangers who worked as guards at the rally site near Democracy Monument.

He also reminded Army chief General Anupong Paochinda of his vow to quit if the rangers were found involved in the rally.

"The volunteer rangers have come forward as promised to protect the rally site from attacks," he said, adding that Anupong had been misled by the yellow shirts into believing that he and the volunteer rangers would instigate violence at the rally.

Khattiya blamed the yellow shirts for trying to frame him, and said that Anupong and Defence permanent secretary General Apichart Penkitti would be committing a blunder if they punished him for a wrongdoing he did not commit.

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