Pre-coup cases to be sped up

national May 31, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Police to focus on lese majeste, graft in rice scheme and attacks on PDRC

Police, under instruction from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), will speed up criminal cases in regard to lese majeste and attacks on protesters who rallied against the Yingluck government over the past several months, according to a senior police officer.
The cases include deaths during a red-shirt gathering at Rajamangala Stadium in November, a clash in Din Daeng during an election registration in December, and a deadly attack on a group of People’s Democratic Reform Committee supporters that killed two children in Trat province, deputy national police chief General Aek Angsananont said yesterday.
War weapons seized recently by officials in Samut Sakhon may be linked to many of the incidents, notably the one in Trat province, Aek said. 
Police also looked into corruption cases related to the rice-pledging scheme, which involved senior officials and rice traders, he said.
Ten cases concerning the rice scheme are under police investigation, he said, noting that police had evidence sufficient to indict people in three cases. 
Police Lt-General Kokiat Wongworachart, an assistant to the national police chief, said he had been assigned to oversee cases concerning illegal possession of weapons. Initial investigation found that a lot of licences for holding weapons were transferred illegally, he said.
Meanwhile, the Courts of Justice Office has warned that any crimes not cited in the National Council for Peace and Order’s (NCPO) restrictions, or those committed before May 25, also come under the jurisdiction of the military courts.
The office also cited the results of a meeting called by the Supreme Court, saying it was not viable to seek a legal interpretation through the Constitutional Court, because the Constitution had been abolished by the NCPO.
For crimes not cited in the NCPO’s restrictions, or those committed before May 25, an exception would be made for crimes committed by minors, the office said in an undated statement.
On May 25, the NCPO announced that crimes against the monarchy, insurrection, sedition and secession, and violation of its orders were applicable for military courts.
A ruling by a military court cannot be appealed.
At 4pm yesterday, a large number of police and soldiers were deployed at Victory Monument to guard against a large planned rally by people opposed to the coup. Traffic around the roundabout was closed from 4pm to 6pm along with shops to avoid possible disruption.
Earlier, the NCPO had said that curfews should be relaxed if several conditions were favourable.
Two anti-coup protesters with a history of violating the lese majeste law have been processed for detention, after police took them to a bail hearing yesterday. They have been identified as Aphichart Phongsawas and Weerayuth Khongthanatharn. 
The two were among 11 protesters arrested during a rally near the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre last Friday.