Court orders Surapong to testify in Thaksin passport case

Former foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul defends himself in the National Legislative Assembly during his impeachment hearing at the parliament on March 29. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions has ordered former foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul to testify on June 15 about the reinstatement of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s passport.

A public prosecutor who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the court had accepted the prosecution case against Mr Surapong for hearing. He is charged with dereliction of duty under Section 157 of the Criminal Code, and is ordered him to testify at 9.30am on June 15.

The lawsuit was brought after the National Anti-Corruption Commission recommended legal action against Mr Surapong over the reinstatement of Thaksin’s passport, because Thaksin was sentenced to prison in absentia and faces other criminal charges if he returns to Thailand.

The charge under Section 157 carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and/or fine of 20,000 baht.

In late March the National Legislative Assembly retroactively impeached Mr Surapong as former foreign minister for reissuing Thaksin his cancelled passport in 2011. The assembly voted 231-4 with three abstentions for the impeachment.

Consequently the former Pheu Thai Party MP is banned from government and political positions for five years. He has already resigned his membership of the Pheu Thai party.

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