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Thailand's prime minister acquitted amid calls for resignation

Thailand's prime minister acquitted amid calls for resignation
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was not illegally occupying a military-owned residence, Thailand's Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday. Pool photo by Ron Sachs/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Thailand's prime minister has been acquitted of violating the Constitution amid accusations of abuse of power and calls for his resignation.

Thailand's Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was not illegally occupying a military-owned residence after the 2014 coup, Singapore's Straits Times and The Thaiger reported.

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Prayut, 66, would have had to step down if convicted. On Wednesday evening, protesters in Bangkok condemned the court decision while chanting, "Get out" and "Evil prime minister," according to the Straits Times.

Prayut led the coup that forced Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra out of power. He is accused of staying in state-owned housing after retiring from the military in September 2014.

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According to the Thai court ruling Wednesday, Prayut had the right to stay at the residence in the First Infantry Regiment base in Bangkok.

"General Prayut Chan-o-cha can legitimately stay in the army guests facility ... as a former army leader and as a person who serves the country," the court said.

The Thai Constitution prohibits a government minister from "receiving any special money or benefit from a government agency, state agency or state enterprise apart from that given by the government agency, state agency or state enterprise to other persons in the ordinary course of business," according to The Thaiger.

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The prime minister, who did not appear in court Wednesday, previously said his home was being renovated and his security detail had recommended he stay on army property.

Thailand's peaceful protesters have urged Prayut to resign since the summer and continue to call for revisions to Thailand's Constitution.

Activists called for royal reform Wednesday.

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"Many issues will arise if the monarchy is not politically neutral," said Arnon Nampa, a protest leader,

The king controls two army units and personally owns assets worth $40 billion, according to the Straits Times.

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