Former Thai PM Thaksin could sue over stripping of police rank

FORMER prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra could file a lawsuit against the Royal Thai Police if he is dissatisfied with the government's decision to strip him of his police rank, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam suggested yesterday.

After meeting with all concern agencies on the matter, Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya recommended to the police chief on behalf of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha that Thaksin be stripped of his rank over his conviction in 2008 of abuse of power while he was the premier.

Paiboon's recommendation was advised by the Council of State.

Wissanu said it was the council's duty to interpret the law only, not to actually order that Thaksin's rank be revoked.

Pol Lt-General Pravut Thawornsiri, spokesman of the Royal Thai Police, yesterday remained tight-lipped following Thaksin's challenge to strip him of his rank quickly.

He said national police chief General Somyot Poompanmuang had been waiting for Pol General Chaiya Siriampankul, chairman of the commission that looks into the revoking of ranks, to report the result of Tuesday's meeting at the Justice Ministry before taking further action.

The meeting agreed that Thaksin's rank of police lieutenant colonel could be revoked as it met the criteria.

The move to strip Thaksin of his rank began after the fugitive telecoms tycoon was convicted in a land-deal case in 2008 but fled the country to escape justice.

The idea gained further impetus early this year when Thaksin commented of last year's coup during an interview in South Korea.

In May, Somyot set up a panel to work on the case in May but little headway was made as Somyot was unsure whether the rank of a retired police officer could be revoked.

Pravut said 636 police officers have had their ranks revoked but they were all active in the force at the time. Thaksin would be the first retired officer to have his rank revoked.

Maj General Sansern Kaewkamnerd, the government's deputy spokesperson, said the prime minister was not worried about an impending lawsuit by Thaksin since he did not exert his influence in the case and simply let the law take its course.

"The prime minister has always stressed that the issue was sensitive and he did not want to apply any special power to finish the case, but let the law take its course, clearly and in a transparent manner," said Sansern.

Prayut yesterday said the only sticking point in the case had been resolved. From now on, it would follow procedure with the concerned agencies submitting the case to him.

"Now, I can only wait for them," said Prayut.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said he saw nothing wrong with the resolution of the meeting as it was based on legal interpretation, not feelings. He urged Thaksin's supporters to understand the point and stressed that the government did not wish to see a conflict arise as a result.