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Haj delays prompt inquiry

Posted by arnon_k On October - 15 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

An inquiry is being launched into flight delays that have left more than 2,000 haj pilgrims stranded at Hat Yai International Airport.

Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombat said yesterday the problem had arisen because the Civil Aviation Department had allowed Iran Air and Mahan Air to fly Thai pilgrims to Mecca.

The permission was in breach of a cabinet resolution that authorises Thai Airways International to select airlines to carry pilgrims, the minister said.

Mr Nipit said Iran Air and Mahan Air were not permitted to fly across the airspace of some countries or to land at Jeddah airport in Saudi Arabia. This was causing delays to trips.

The airlines also each had only one aircraft available to fly pilgrims, so they were having to fly back and forth between Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

Mr Nipit said he suspected certain influential figures had put pressure on the Civil Aviation Department to allow Iran Air and Mahan Air to share in the flights.

Suthas Thitiraweewong, head of the haj affairs centre at the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre, said delays to flights to Mecca at Hat Yai stemmed partly from airlines’ red tape.

PAD’s Pathompong, Joy report to CSD

Posted by arnon_k On October - 15 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Former armed forces chief adviser Pathompong Kesornsuk and actress Siriluck Pongchoke, better know as Joy, on Friday morning reported to Pol Col Sanit Mahathavorn, deputy commander of the Crime Suppression Division, to acknowledge charges of involvement in the occupation of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in late 2008, reports said.

They were accompanied by lawyers Nitithorn Lamluea and Natthaporn Toprayoon. About 30 yellow-shirts showed up at the Crime Suppression Division in a show of support for the two suspects, according to the reports.

Gen Pathompong, who is retired, said he is not heavy hearted about the charges, as by his action he had been calling for democracy and for the protection of the high institution.

One company of commando police was deployed to maintain law and order.

Methi wants Jatuporn’s bail withdrawn

Posted by arnon_k On October - 12 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Former actor and red-shirt united front member Methi Amornvuthikul has asked the Department or Special Investigation to withdraw bail for United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship leader Jatuporn Prompan.

Mr Methi called on DSI director-general Tharit Pengdit on Tuesday morning and made the request, saying Mr Jatuporn had made a threaterning call to him, who is now under a witnesses protection programme, about his being a witness in a terrorism case against UDD leaders.

He also told Mr Tharit some red-shirt leaders had siphoned about 68 million baht donated by UDD supporters and fled to Malaysia.

Mr Tharit said Mr Methi told him it was Mr Jatuporn who made a threatening call to him, saying the voice was very familiar to him. Mr Methi also showed him Mr Jatuporn’s telephone number which appeared on his mobile phone.

Although being kept as a witness, Mr Methi, who was arrested on charges of illegally having war weapons for official use in his possession, is allowed to use the telephone as usual without being bugged with DSI officials, Mr Tharit said.

Asked whether the statement given by Mr Methis would be used to withdraw bail for Mr Jatuporn, the DSI chief said the information needed to be verified. DSI officials had recorded Mr Methi’s statement, Mr Tharit said.

Mr Jatuporn is one of the UDD leaders charged with terrorism. However, he has been freed on bail using his parliamentary immunity.

Mr Tharit said the information on the alleged theft of the donation money was a personal matter and had nothing to do with the DSI.

Asked to comment on Cambodia’s statement that it had never allowed the red shirts to use its military camp for arms training, Mr Tharit said this matter would be discussed at today’s meeting of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situations (CRES) to decide if the Foreign Ministry should be informed and seek explanation from the neighbouring country.

PM, party members listed to testify in funding trial

Posted by arnon_k On October - 12 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and other senior Democrats will be the final witnesses next Monday in the 29 million baht political party development fund case being heard in the Constitution Court.

The court will retire after the final hearing with the fate of the Democrat Party and its executives, including Mr Abhisit, hanging in the balance. It is expected to return a verdict by the end of next month, a Democrat source said.

Also set to testify next Monday along with Mr Abhisit, the party deputy leader when the party development fund was allocated, are Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga and Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich, the science and technology minister.

A Democrat witness told the court yesterday there were no legal grounds to dissolve the party.

Khomsan Phokhong, a law lecturer at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University and a drafter of the 2007 constitution, said the allegations of the funds being misspent should have come under the 1998 Political Party Act rather than the 2007 Political Party Act.

Mr Khomsan said the allegations covered the years 2004 and 2005 when the 1998 Political Party Act was in effect.

He said under the 1998 Political Party Act, the political party registrar – who is also the chairman of the Election Commission – had the authority to order the dissolution of a political party.

He said the registrar ruled in 2009 not to dissolve the Democrat Party. The registrar’s decision to reconsider the case and forward it to the EC for consideration in March and again in April this year based on the 2007 Political Party Act should be considered inappropriate.

The EC felt it had a case to dissolve the party and forwarded its resolution to the Constitution Court.

The Democrat Party would have faced dissolution under the 1998 Political Party Act but its executives would not be banned from politics. The 2007 version provides for the executives involved in any breaches to be banned from holding political office for five years.

Mr Khomsan told the court he did not have close connections with any member of the Democrat Party.

Another witness, Issara Limsiriwong, who headed the EC subcommittee which investigated the case, said the panel recommended three times to the EC that the Democrat Party should not be dissolved.