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Pita media shares ruling due on Jan 24

The Constitutional Court will issue its ruling in the media shareholding case against former Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat on Jan 24.

The court made the announcement on Wednesday after hearing a defence statement from Mr Pita, now the advisory chairman of the main opposition party.

If the court finds that Mr Pita applied to run for office while knowing that he held shares in a media business — in this case the long-defunct broadcaster iTV — he could lose his MP status.

The case was brought before the charter court by the Election Commission (EC), despite a recommendation from an EC subcommittee that it drop the charge that Mr Pita violated Section 151 of the Election Act.

Mr Pita was one of three people who gave evidence on Wednesday. The court also heard from EC secretary-general Sawang Boonmee and Kim Siritaweechai, the executive director of iTV.

After reviewing the testimony of the three witnesses, the court said it would issue its ruling on Jan 24 at 2pm.

Mr Pita told reporters outside the court after his appearance that he was “content” with the day’s events and confident in the justice system.

Earlier, when he arrived bearing two bags filled with documents, he said he was not worried. He said he had been waiting for this day for a long time and welcomed the opportunity to explain the facts of the case.

“What I can disclose to the media is that iTV is not a media firm as it has not run a media business since 2007. Its revenue comes from interest from its investments,” he told reporters.

“If comparing with … past rulings (in similar cases), I am confident that iTV is not a media stock.”

The 42,000 shares in iTV were originally owned by Mr Pita’s father, and after he died his son became executor of the estate. The shares have since been transferred to other relatives, he has said.

“It has been 16 years since my father’s passing in 2006 and iTV has not been in operation since 2007,” said Mr Pita. “I will take this opportunity to speak for the first time and communicate.”

Mr Pita’s supporters showed up at the court to give him encouragement. Some hugged him before he entered the courtroom; some held placards of support.

The Constitutional Court suspended Mr Pita on July 19 from duty as an elected member of the House of Representatives.

Mr Pita has questioned the EC’s motive in investigating his shareholding in iTV.

He noted that iTV and the telecom firm Intouch Holdings, its major shareholder, had produced financial documents showing that the defunct media firm had stopped broadcasting and had no income from media operations.

Citing previous media shareholding complaints against about 60 MPs in 2020, he also said they were not suspended from duty pending rulings.

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