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Thailand court dismisses election funding case against ruling party

The Constitutional Court of Thailand [GlobaLex backgrounder] on Monday dismissed the case against the ruling Democrat Party [party website] for alleged misuse of campaign funds. Judge Udomsak Nitimontree dismissed the suit, brought in June by the Electoral Commission of Thailand (EC) [official website], citing the commissioner's failure to follow proper filing procedure by taking more than 15 days to file the complaint in court. Only six of the nine judges remained on the panel to deliver the verdict, with three judges recusing themselves for their involvement with the Democratic Party. If the suit had been successful, the Democratic Party would have been dissolved and party leaders, including current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva [official website], would have been banned from participating in politics for five years.

In August, the Constitutional Court began hearing the case [JURIST report], which centered around the misuse of an EC electoral grant where the EC alleged funds from the grant had been transferred to senior party officials in violation of the Political Party Act [LoC Backgrounder]. The EC called for the dissolution of the party [JURIST report] in April for failing to report donations from the business community and alleged misuse of the funds. The commission's decision came amid some of the deadliest political clashes Thailand has experienced in nearly two decades, as Thai protesters, known as red shirts [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], called for new elections and Vejjajiva's resignation.

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