A police officer talks to activists who gathered on the skywalk in Pathumwan district on Jan 27 to demand an early election. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

A Pathumwan district prosecutor has decided not to prosecute 24 pro-election activists who rallied near the MBK shopping centre in Bangkok on Jan 27, saying a prosecution would not be in the public interest.

Police originally charged 33 people in the case, acting on a complaint filed by Col Burin Thongprapai of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said Prayut Phetchakhun, a deputy spokesman for the Office of the Attorney-General.

Deputy police chief Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul has treated the rally held on the skywalk near MBK as a serious case. He opposed bail for those arrested at the time but the court allowed them to walk free unconditionally, citing their good cooperation. 

The activists have been divided into two groups. Twenty-four of them who appeared in Pathumwan district court faced charges of violating the junta’s order on public assembly and the 2017 Public Assembly Act as they were gathered within 150 metres of a palace.

The remaining nine also faced sedition charges under the Penal Code in addition to the other two charges, and are being handled by the South Bangkok Criminal Court, which deals with cases with punishment of three years or more.

For the group appearing before the Pathumwan court, Krirkkiat Rattanavatham, the court’s prosecutor handling the case, decided on Friday not to prosecute them.

“While the case has grounds, he found prosecuting them would not benefit the public,” said Mr Prayut.

Mr Prayut said the case and the prosecutor’s opinion would now be sent to the chief of the Department of Summary Litigation and then to the attorney-general for a final decision.

“The prosecutors’ law stipulates that cases deemed not beneficial to the public are to be sent to the attorney-general for the final decision,” he said.

He explained that this is a common practice and it hinges on a prosecutor’s discretion, citing as an example a reckless driving case causing deaths.

“While reckless driving is a crime, if it turns out the only survivor is the father who drove the car and the rest of his family had died, a prosecutor may drop the charges against him,” he said.

News Reporter

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