Thwarted Thai PM candidate faces court case that could end career

BANGKOK: Thailand's thwarted election winner Pita Limjaroenrat said Wednesday he was confident he would "receive justice" after giving evidence in a court case that could see him barred from politics.

The Constitutional Court is considering whether the former leader of the Move Forward Party (MFP) broke rules banning members of parliament from owning shares in media companies.

The 43-year-old has insisted he will run for office again, but if the court rules against him, he could be disqualified from parliament altogether.

MFP won the most seats in Thailand's May general election but Pita was blocked from becoming prime minister by conservative forces opposed to his reform agenda.

"I was satisfied with the procedures. I have testified as planned," he told reporters after giving evidence to the court, which is closed to media.

"I am confident that I will receive justice and I hope to work for the people."

On arriving at court earlier in the morning, Pita said he had no concerns about the case.

"I've been waiting for this day a long time so that I can communicate with others that I am confident of the truth," he said.

The case revolves around shares in the long-defunct ITV television station, which Pita says he inherited from his father when he died.

Around 15 to 20 MFP supporters gathered outside the court to back Pita, including some wearing the party's bright orange colour.

MFP rode support from young and urban Thais weary of a near-decade of military rule to secure a shock election victory in May, beating the Pheu Thai party of veteran political playmaker Thaksin Shinawatra into second place.

But MFP's pledges to reform Thailand's strict royal insult laws, as well as plans to break up business monopolies and take on the military's influence in politics, spooked the kingdom's powerful elite.

Pita was blocked by senators – appointed by the last junta – from becoming prime minister, and Pheu Thai formed a coalition that included pro-military parties but shut MFP out of government.

Pita stepped down as party leader in September. — AFP

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