Boonlert summoned over rally

The Constitution Court has decided to summon Pitak Siam leader Gen Boonlert Kaewprasit and the protest group's spokesman, Air Vice-Marshal Vachara Riddhagni, to testify today.

The court has not yet accepted petitions asking it to order Pitak Siam to call off its rally on Saturday, Constitution Court spokesman Pimol Thampithakpong said Wednesday.

The petitions were filed by former senator Ruangkrai Leekijwattana, Pheu Thai Party member Singthong Buachum, and lawyer Nuengdin Wimuttinant, citing Section 68 of the constitution, which prohibits attempts to overthrow the constitutional monarchy or grab power by unconstitutional means.

Mr Pimol said the judges found the reasons provided in the petitions insufficient to base a decision on whether to accept them for consideration. Therefore, the court sent a summons to Gen Boonlert and AVM Vachara, asking them to testify today at 2pm.

After hearing their testimony, the Constitution Court judges will decide whether to consider the petitioners' request, Mr Pimol said.

Gen Boonlert, also known as Seh Ai, said yesterday he would not appear in court but would send his lawyer to testify on his behalf.

The general repeated his claim that if the number of demonstrators turns out to be small, he will call off the rally by 11pm on Saturday. He denied allegations that participants will be paid between 1,500 to 2,000 baht each to join the Pitak Siam protest.

Democrat Party deputy leader Thaworn Senneam said yesterday that if members of the Shinawatra family leave the country before the Pitak Siam rally takes place, it is likely that protest violence will occur.

Mr Thaworn said Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who oversees national security, has travelled to the North and left national police chief Adul Saengsingkaew responsible for handling the rally.

He said if more than 100,000 people join the Pitak Siam rally at the Royal Plaza, it could get out of hand and turn violent because such a large number of people is difficult to control.

Previously, Mr Chalerm and Lt Gen Paradon Pattanathaboot, secretary-general of the National Security Council, said thousands of "fake red shirts" might try to provoke violence during the protest.

Pol Gen Piya Uthayo, spokesman for the Royal Thai Police, said authorities expect about 50,000 people will turn up at the rally, and that it could be prolonged to coincide with the censure debate against the government, scheduled to begin on Sunday.

Police are prepared to deal with any emergency, he said.

Meanwhile Niran Pitakwatchara, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, said there is no need for the commission to send its representatives to observe the Pitak Siam rally. Election Commissioner Sodsri Satayathum said the EC will not send its representatives to observe the rally either. Mr Chalerm has said he wants independent agencies to monitor the protest.

Related search: Gen Boonlert Kaewprasit, Gen Boonlert, Constitution Court, Pitak Siam, rally, Saturday Nov 24, illegal, sedition, constitution

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