On paper, as prime minister of a military government, Prayuth (Chan-o-cha) had as much dictatorial power and immunity under Section 44 of the interim constitution of 2014 as Sarit Thanarat had under Section 17 of the interim constitution of 1959, but he did not invoke Section 44 to execute anyone.
Sarit ordered the summary execution of five suspected arsonists, one suspected heroin producer, one suspected messianic leader and four suspected communists - eleven people in total, five of whom he adjudged guilty of political offences.
Under the preceding Phibun (Songkhram) regime, members of parliament were killed extra-judicially. In 1949 four pro-Pridi MPs from Isaan who had been arrested for alleged treason were assassinated by their police escort; in 1952 an anti-Phibun MP from Isaan was murdered in police custody; and in 1954 another MP was found murdered after he alleged the police chief was corrupt.
The post-coup government of 2006-07 and the military government since 2014 could not - and showed no signs of wanting to - deal with political opponents in the cavalier manner of Sarit or Phibun and their henchman.
FROM THE PAGES OF HISTORY