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'We have right to freeze assets'

THE DEPARTMENT of Special Investigation had the authority to issue summons and freeze assets of 38 protest leaders, DSI chief Tarit Pengdith insisted yesterday.

Protesters had the right to demonstrate, but he said protest leaders had committed criminal offences, such as instigating work stoppages, encouraging people not to pay taxes, and laying siege to government offices and television stations. The Criminal Court had also ruled against revoking an arrest warrant for People's Democratic Reform Committee secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban.

The DSI, he said, needed to investigate the assets of 38 protest leaders to find out who was financing the protests. It had also resolved to press charges against lawyer Nitithorn Lamlua and major protest leaders for leading protesters to rally outside the US embassy, in an attempt to "oust" the US Ambassador. Tarit said the agency would also issue arrest warrants on January 2-3 for 20 additional protest leaders on charges of violating Articles 116 and 215. He said that if they failed to show up at police stations and appeared instead on rally stages, they would immediately be arrested. Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit accused former Democrat MP Ongart Klampaiboon of putting pressure on an official, after his assets were frozen. He said Ongart allegedly threatened to sue Tarit.

Prompong also attacked Democrat adviser Chuan Leekpai for boycotting the election, saying he was disappointed with Chuan who always adhered to democratic principles.


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