House disapproves UDD leaders’ request to give up MP immunity

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BANGKOK, 8 September 2011  – The House of Representatives has turned down a request by nine red-shirt leaders to relinquish their MP immunity in an attempt to fight the lèse majesté case against them in court.

The House has convened to decide whether to allow nine Pheu Thai MPs, who are also core leaders of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), to give up their parliamentary protection in order to defend themselves against the lèse majesté allegation before the Court. However, after a voting session, the House resolved to reject the UDD leaders’ request with a majority vote of 252-106.

The nine consist of Mr Jatuporn Prompan, Mr Natthawut Saikua, MD Weng Tojirakarn, Mr Wiphuthalaeng Pattanaphumthai, Mr Korkaew Pikulthong, Mr Payap Panket, Mr Wichien Khaokham, Mr Karun Hosakul and Mr Prasit Chaisrisa.

Prior to the voting, Mr Jatuporn addressed his fellow MPs that he and the other UDD core figures strongly wished to receive permission to prove their innocence in the lèse majesté case even though they were entitled to their immunity. Mr Wiphuthalaeng also pointed out that the request had shown that the group did not become MPs with an intention to exploit the given legal protection.

On the other hand, opposition Democrat MPs encouraged the House to allow the UDD core leaders to give up their immunity as requested, noting that similar attempts by MPs in the past had always been permitted. Furthermore, they said the voting result would serve as an indicator as to whether the nine red-shirt leaders’ display of bravery had been nothing but an act.