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NCPO won't mess with amnesty: Paiboon

Says he was misquoted in relation to absolution of cases tied to politics

General Paiboon Koomchaya, the junta's chief of judicial affairs, denied yesterday that the military rulers planned to conduct a public opinion survey on amnesty for political cases.

Paiboon said he had been misquoted by an online Thai media outlet on Sunday, as well as by several newspapers yesterday.

The news website quoted Paiboon as saying that he had been instructed by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, chief of the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), to group political cases together and consider conducting an opinion survey to see if the public would find it acceptable to absolve the cases.

In the online report, which has been removed, Paiboon did not mention former PM Thaksin Shinawatra by name, but several newspapers interpreted his reported words as meaning that the NCPO was contemplating an amnesty for politicians.

An NCPO source said yesterday that the junta had discussed a suggestion by certain groups that political crimes should be considered non-criminal offences, which could help bring about national reconciliation. In the past, prosecuting politically motivated cases led to social division, the source added.

However, the source said, the NCPO chief had made it clear it would not push for this matter since it was afraid it might be accused of condoning injustice or double standards.

The NCPO chief wants the National Reform Council (NRC) and the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) to work on this matter.

"A clear-cut procedure shall certainly be considered for the classification of cases. But the details and implementation method as well as opinion surveys from various factions such as the general public, those affected or families suffering losses have to be worked out by the NRC in collaboration with the NLA. The outcomes shall be accepted. The NCPO will refrain from getting involved," the source said.

Charnchao Chaiyanukit, deputy permanent secretary for Justice, yesterday expressed support for the idea of separating political crimes from serious crimes in dealing with cases related to the political crisis over the past decade. But he said a clear definition was required.

Paiboon, speaking at the Inside Thailand show on Spring News and FM97.0 MHz, cried foul yesterday. He said that he did not talk about Thaksin at all and noted that he was speaking with just the media outlet in question so he wondered why he was widely quoted by several other newspapers.

Politicians should defend themselves

He accused the unnamed media outlet of "daydreaming. What poll? Why will we have to organise a poll? I and the NCPO have no need to touch cases of politicians who violated the laws," Paiboon said.

Paiboon quoted Prayuth as insisting that legal procedures involving political cases had to proceed and politicians would have to defend themselves in court.

"The NCPO has never tried to interfere in independent organisations or influence the court's decisions or the prosecutions' outcomes. Politicians who commit wrongdoing shall face punishment according to the law. The NCPO chief has ordered me not to intervene or exert influence, otherwise the NCPO will be accused of persecution," he said.

"I can do nothing with their lawsuits. They need to settle their own cases. These are individual rights."

Paiboon said that from now on he would restrict his interviews to bills forwarded to the NLA in accordance with the junta's roadmap.


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