Justice Minister: Government not delaying royal pardon process for Thaksin

October 17, 2009 10:18 pm 

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BANGKOK, Oct. 17 — Thai Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga on Saturday denied charges by the anti-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) that the government delayed the petition process calling for a royal clemency for ousted, fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr Pirapan’s denial came as UDD began their activities on a stage set up near the Chamaimaruchet Bridge near Government House and its leading members have appeared on stage taking turns delivering speech to attack the government.

Saturday’s rally marks 60 days since the UDD leadership submitted the movement’s petition to the Prime Minister’s Office calling for royal pardon for Mr Thaksin, convicted of charges of corruption, and who is now living in self-imposed exile overseas.

The ‘Red Shirt’ UDD should have submitted its petition to the Corrections Department which is responsible for considering the issue instead of the Prime Minister’s Office, said Mr. Pirapan. The office was forced to send the petition later to the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Justice which then forwarded it to the Corrections Department, causing a waste of time.

He said “considerable progress” had been made, but the delay was caused by the UDD submitting the petition to wrong office in the first instance.

Tight security by six thousand police and military personnel were providing security for Government House and nearby government buildings. Barbed wire has been installed in front of the gates at Government House where Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has his offices.

Police equipped with batons and shields stood in line near the platform of UDD while placards saying: “Rally in peace, No weapons and under a legal framework” were seen erected by officials around the rally site.

Bangkok Metropolitan Police Chief Pol Lt-Gen Worapong Chewpreecha inspected police preparations to deal with the demonstration and later said he had not yet received any report that a “third-hand party” would create any disturbance during the demonstration.

Gen Worapong said strategy plans had been mapped out if the rally extended beond its scheduled timeframe. (PNA/TNA)

DCT/rsm

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