The National Legislative Assembly unanimously voted in support of amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code which will pave the way for the Supreme Court’s criminal division for holders of political offices to try corrupt politicians behind their backs.
The amendments a far cry from the standard norm specified in the Criminal Procedure Code that a court trial of a criminal case must be done in the presence of the defendant.
Before the vote yesterday (July 13), several members of the NLA expressed doubt about whether the amendments which are contradictory to the judicial principle that the court trial of a criminal case must be undertaken in the presence of the defendant and whether they would go against the spirit of the Constitution.
Assemblyman Mr Thanee Onla-aid noted that it was also an international legal practice that court trial of a criminal case must be done with the defendant or defendants being present in the courtroom. He doubted that the amendments would contravene with the Constitution and the citizen’s right as guaranteed by the United Nations.
Mr Udom Rat-amarith, a member of the Constitution Drafting Committee and a member of the scrutiny committee scrutinizing the amendments, pointed out that, in the past and at present, corrupt politicians managed to escape scot-free because the court could not put them on trial without their presence before the court.
The amendments, he explained, were intended to close the legal loophole and to empower the court to put the corrupt politicians on trial even though they have escaped overseas.
“Ordinary people are under the jurisdiction of the justice process and the law, but the escapees are not. The question is how can we deal with them? This is about the law that will create equality and fairness,” said Mr Udom.