Thai opposition figure charged over illegal protest

BANGKOK (AFP) – A prominent Thai anti-establishment figure was charged yesterday for his role in an illegal flash mob protest last year, prosecutors in the country’s capital said.

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a charismatic billionaire and founder of the dissolved Future Forward party, is accused of five public assembly violations linked to the rally in Bangkok’s central shopping district in December 2019.

Charges include failing to notify police of a public gathering, blocking a sky train station, using a megaphone without permission and holding a rally close to a royal residence, his lawyer Krisadang Nutcharut said.

“The maximum sentence is six months in jail,” he told reporters. Charges yesterday are part of a slew of recent legal actions against Thanathorn and other Thai MPs elected under the Future Forward banner but who have now shifted to its successor Move Forward Party.

The indictment comes a day after Tanwarin Sukkhapisit was disqualified from Parliament after the constitutional court found her guilty of owning shares in a media company.

Thanathorn also fell foul of the same electoral law and lost his seat in November last year.

Also facing criminal charges over the December flash mob are Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat and former Future Forward party officials Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, Pannika Wanich and Pairatchote Chantarakachorn. They are due to face trial in December. “I will honestly fight this case,” Pita told reporters outside the Attorney General’s Office yesterday. “I will not flee.”