The Thai Senate voted overwhelming today (Monday) against a police summons for Senator Upakit Pachariyangkun to acknowledge charges of drug trafficking and money laundering, following a debate in parliament after the embattled senator was given a chance to defend himself.
Senator Upakit was linked to an influential Myanmar businessman, Tun Min Latt, who has close connections with the Myanmar strongman, who was arrested in Bangkok in September last year on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.
Before the debate, Deputy Senate Speaker Suphachai Somcharoen informed senators about the request from the Royal Thai Police to summon Senator Upakit for questioning regarding the charges against him. He also informed senators about Section 125 of the Constitution, which prohibits the arrest or detention of a member of parliament unless there is consent from the House or the Senate.
Defending himself, Upakit told the Senate that he was unfairly charged and has been suffering for over a year because of the charges against him, adding that he has nothing to do with the Allure Group of companies in Myanmar, linked to Tun Min Latt, which has extensive businesses in hotels, casinos and energy in Myanmar.
He claimed that has been a broker selling cross-border energy between Thailand and Myanmar for the last 15 years and never once has a problem with Thai authorities.
Then, out of the blue, the company with which he was working was implicated in drug trafficking, despite the fact that there are more than 100 companies which have done business with the Allure Group.
He also said he was slandered by Move Forward MP Rangsiman Rome for alleged involvement in drug trafficking and money laundering due to his connection with Tun Min Latt.
Upakit said he is willing to face justice in a court of law and to relinquish his political immunity.
One of the senators, Wiwath Saengsuriyachat, challenged the police to present their incriminating evidence against Upakit to the Senate, adding that he will be the first to approve their summons or arrest warrant.
After the debate, the Senate voted 174 to reject the police request against 7 who agreed. 10 senators abstained from voting.