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New law to disallow convicted criminals in absentia to appeal court’s ruling

The Cabinet yesterday endorsed a significant change in the existing Criminal Procedure Act that will bar convicted criminals in absentia to lose their rights to appeal to higher courts
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new Thai lawBut they will get the right for appeal only they appear by themselves at the court.

If the amendment is passed into law by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), lawyers will no longer be allowed to appeal on behalf of those convicted against court’s ruling.

Government spokesman Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act was proposed by Mr Mahannop Detwitak, a member of the NLA, reasoning that he didn’t want to see convicted criminals fleeing the country during court trials to obtain the right to appeal to the Appeals Court and the Supreme Court.

Under his proposed amendment, convicted criminals who are not in the country must be barred from designating their lawyers to act on their behalf to appeal court’s verdict.

Convicted criminals are allowed to appeal only they show up at the court.

If they do not appear, the court will reject their appeals, the spokesman quoted the NLA member’s amendment as saying.

The spokesman said the proposed amendment corresponds with the wish of the government’s policy which wants to ensure justice in the society.

Under Article 182 of the Criminal Procedure Act, in case that the court has issued arrest warrant for a suspect but he is still not arrested within one month after the issuance date, the court can announce its verdict in absentia on assumption that the convicted has acknowledged the ruling.

But the convicted criminal is given the right to designate his lawyer to appeal.

The assemblyman viewed that the right for appeal given to convicted criminals in absentia is not an advantage to the justice system. Instead this right merely encourages criminals to flee court trial.

He viewed that this change will deprive the right for appeal of those who have thoughts to flee the court to fight the cases.

Thai PBS

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