11 July 2024

The Constitutional Court is the sole authority to decide whether Pheu Thai MP for Khon Kaen province, Mr. Nawath Tohcharoensook, has lost his MP status after he was sent to jail yesterday by order of the Khon Kaen provincial court, which sentenced him to death for masterminding the murder of a local official.

House Secretary-General Surasak Pienwech today ordered 15 legal experts, from the office of the House secretary-general, to consider the status of Mr. Nawath at the instruction of House Speaker Chuan Leekpai.

The experts were divided. 11 of them agreed that the Khon Kaen MP lost his parliamentary status once he was incarcerated after the court rejected his bail application, with the remaining experts maintaining that he is still an MP.

All 15, however, agreed that the House secretary-general’s office has no right to determine Nawath’s status because that responsibility rests with the Constitutional Court, said Mr. Surasak.

He said that one-tenth of the members of the House or the Senate could sign a motion, to be submitted to the House or Senate speaker, to ask the Constitutional Court to consider the matter.

The other option is for the Election Commission to submit the issue to the Constitutional Court directly.

Pheu Thai party’s leadership rushed to defend Nawath after the court’s guilty verdict yesterday, claiming that he is still an MP because the verdict is subject to appeal.

Nawath was found guilty of masterminding the murder of Mr. Suchart Kotethum, an assistant chief of Khon Kaen provincial administration organization (PAO) five years ago.  Suchart was shot dead by gunmen, including two police officers, in front of his house in Muang district.