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AFP
November 21, 2019

Thai court strips opposition frontman of MP status

National

AFP
November 21, 2019

BANGKOK: The billionaire frontman of Thailand´s anti-military bloc was stripped of his MP status on Wednesday over a media shareholding case, a court ruling that could lead to him being banned from politics and jailed for up to 10 years.

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and his upstart Future Forward party rode a youth-propelled wave in March elections making it the third largest in the country and alarming the establishment.

The outspoken 40-year-old connected with Thais weary of the army´s role in Thailand´s turbulent politics, which has seen at least 12 coups since 1932. But since the vote he has battled legal cases and was suspended from parliament earlier this year after accusations he held shares in a media company when he registered as a candidate.

He denied the charges and said they are politically motivated, but judges at the constitutional court ruled against him on Wednesday, calling his evidence "suspicious" and revoking his MP status.

His removal means the Election Commission could bring criminal charges that carry serious penalties - including a political ban and imprisonment. It also deals a gut punch to his party, which won devoted fans among millennials after calling for the military to be purged from politics, military conscription to be ended and defence spending slashed.

But the court rejected the claim, saying there was no "official proof" that the transfer took place on that day. Thanathorn remained defiant following the verdict, telling reporters outside the court that the judges had given "more weight to their presumptions" instead of the evidence he provided.