May 30, 2007 / 10:09 AM / 13 years ago

Thai court acquits Democrats of 3 of 4 charges

Supporters of Thailand's Democrat Party cheer at the party headquarters in Bangkok May 30,2007. Thailand's constitutional judges acquitted the Democrat Party on the first of four charges that could see it disbanded and their leaders banned from politics. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s constitutional judges acquitted the Democrat Party on three of four charges that could see it disbanded and their leaders banned from politics.

After more than three hours of summing up the cases against the Democrats and the party of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the judges said the Democrats were not guilty of slandering Thaksin during an election campaign last year.

They also acquitted the Democrats, which boycotted the election, of bribing people to accuse Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai party of hiring them to run, thus validating a poll requiring a sole candidate to get 20 percent of the vote.

The fourth charge accuses the party of detaining a candidate and forcing her to implicate Thai Rak Thai in election wrongdoing.

About 170 leaders of the two parties are vulnerable to bans for breaches of election laws in the inconclusive election, later annulled, which Thaksin called last year in the face of a mounting street campaign against him.

Such bans would delay passage of a new constitution and elections coup leaders have promised for December. That would plunge coup-prone Thailand deeper into the political unknown, analysts said.

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