The National Legislative Assembly has passed a draft organic law on criminal procedures to allow trials in absentia for holders of political position accused of crimes.
Critics say that since the defendant will not be present in such a trial, he cannot defend himself and the law is thus unjust. They also charge that this law is directed against a single person – Thaksin Shinawatra – who is now in self-imposed exile.
A trial in absentia may be just if, and only if, the defendant’s absence is truly voluntary – which surely holds true in Thaksin’s case, so I have no problem with that. If Thaksin so wishes, he can appoint a lawyer to defend him in Thailand.
But I suggest that trials in absentia should be used for other serious crimes such as murder as well, where the maximum penalty would be imprisonment for a given number of years, or death. Thus, for example, Red Bull heir “Boss” could and should be tried for his confessed killing of a cop with his Ferrari. If PM Prayut has the political will to bring us under one legal standard, he should make this move.
A law must be just and applied without fear or favour – and that is what we should do.