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Legal adviser to junta chief jumps into spotlight

PORNPETCH Wichitcholchai was yesterday unveiled as one of the key legal advisers to General Prayuth Chan-ocha, chief of the governing National Council for Peace and Order.

One of the three ombudsmen, Pornpetch had been more of a |man who stayed behind the scenes and was largely unknown to the public until yesterday.

Now 65, Pornpetch graduated in law with second-class honours from Chulalongkorn University and took a master's degree in law at Harvard University in the United States.

He started his legal career at the Council of State as a lawyer and was eventually promoted to judge.

He held many important positions within the country's justice institutions, most notably as president of the Court of Appeals, chief justice of the Supreme Court and member of the National Legislative Assembly in 2006.

He was also a senator and a candidate for the Constitutional Court bench.

He lectures in law at various universities in Thailand and was bestowed a royal appointment as a professor emeritus.

When he was at the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders, he was one of the judges who ruled that Thaksin Shinawatra had abused his power in connection with telecommunications excise tax policy for his own benefit.

The prosecution alleged that Thaksin's corruption caused damages of Bt66 billion to the state.

When he was in the National Legislative Assembly, he proposed an amendment to Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese-majeste law, to give it more comprehensive coverage and allow harsher punishment.

He also pushed for a law to be introduced to prevent news coverage of lese-majeste cases that are still pending in court.

He also played a part in the court's invalidation of last February's general election.

As an ombudsman, he petitioned the Constitutional Court to rule on a complaint lodged by a university lecturer.

Pornpetch has emerged as a candidate for chairman of the Constitution Drafting Assembly.




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