Thai army denies outside influence behind May 22 coup

THE ARMY staged the coup on May 22 last year on its own and was not influenced by any particular group of people, as has been claimed by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a court has heard.

Maj-General Sarayut Klinmahom, director of the Army's Judge Advocate Office, made the statement while testifying before the Criminal Court yesterday during a hearing of the Army's libel case against Thaksin.

The court will decide on August 28 whether to accept the case.

"Nobody ordered the Army to seize political power," Sarayut told the court.

He represented the Army in bringing the case to court against Thaksin, who in May made the accusation in an interview with the media in South Korea.

Thaksin's interview later was posted on the YouTube video-sharing website and social media.

Sarayut told the court that Thaksin had defamed the Army by painting it as damaging the country and admiring the dictatorial rule of Myanmar's military government.

Sarayut insisted the Army had in fact staged the coup to prevent further destabilisation of the country, after months of protest, a political deadlock and loss of lives from the use of war-grade weapons.

"The Army needed to restore peace and prevent further harm to national security. The power seizure was unlikely to cause a negative impact on the country. As many as 80-90 per cent of the people agreed with the coup. There were people who opposed it, but the number was very low," he claimed.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Attorney-General is investigating another case in which Thaksin is accused of lese majeste. However, Attorney-General Trakul Winitnaiyapak has not ordered the investigators to expedite their work, office spokesman Wanchai Rujanawong said yesterday.

Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya said he had asked Japan Ambassador Shiro Sadoshima to keep an eye on Thai expatriates in Japan who are sought for violating the lese majeste law. Paiboon said he did not expect Japan to extradite those people back to Thailand.