A night of drama as 2 protesters face court in Bangkok over “sedition” charges

PHOTO: A crowd of around 200 had gathered in front of the Bangkhen Police Station - Prachatai

Anon Nampa, a human rights lawyer, and student activist Panupong Jadnok, are both under arrest on “sedition” charges after they took part in protests on July 18. They’ve been arrested under Section 116 of the Criminal Code and for allegedly violating the Emergency Decree. After a night of dramatic legal to-and-fro, the 2 were back in court again this morning.

Anon was arrested in front of his condominium yesterday afternoon. Around 8 uniformed and plain clothes police officers came to arrest him and took him to the Samranrat Police Station in Phra Nakhon, Bangkok.

Anon also posted a picture of the arrest warrant on his Facebook page… “I have been arrested.”

The warrant accuses him of sedition, of organising a protest involving 10 or more people, and threatening to cause violence or a breach of peace under Section 215 of the Criminal Code, violating the Emergency Decree which bans large gatherings (which has since been removed from the emergency decree on August 1), obstructing the public way without permission under Section 385 of the Criminal Code, violating Section 19 of the Maintenance of the Cleanliness and Orderliness of the Country Act, and using a loudspeaker without permission under the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act.

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The head of the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights spoke to the media saying that Anon can only be detained “no more than 48 hours before he has to be presented before the court. At that time he will likely seek bail.”

Yaowalak also said that the warrant named Anon as the 7th suspect, suggesting that his arrest is part of a “larger crackdown on anti-government activists.”

Then at 3pm yesterday a Rayong-based student activist, who is already known to police after trying to raise a protest sign when the PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s visited Rayong last month, was also arrested in front of Ramkhamhaeng University (photo below). Anon was then escorted to the Bangkok Police Station.

Panupong was named the 5th suspect on the arrest warrant and list of charges was the same as Anon. It’s understood that around 30 other people involved in organising the July 18 protest, or spoke at the protests, could also be targetted for arrest.

Around 5.30pm both Panupong and Anon were taken to the Bangkok Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights claim that police had forced Panupong to sign a statement without his lawyer being present. He was then taken to court without his lawyer.

The arrests have taken place after Anon gave a surprisingly candid speech at the Harry Potter-themed protest on August 3 calling for reform of Thailand’s revered Monarchy which included some open criticism of Thailand’s head of state.

The Free People Group announced yesterday that they will be holding another protest on 16 August. Anon was also due to speak on monarchy reform at a rally in Chiang Mai tomorrow. It’s unlikely he’ll be attending that event at this stage.

At 6pm Anon arrived at the Bangkok Criminal Court. There was still a court officer waiting to process the request for temporary detention, even though Court officially closed at 5.30pm.

A night of drama as 2 protesters face court in Bangkok over "sedition" charges | News by Thaiger

A crowd of around 200 had gathered in front of the Bangkhen Police Station just after 7pm calling for Anon and Panupong’s release. The Bangkhen Police Station then issued them an order to end the demonstration by 8pm.

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, a member of the Student Union of Thailand, tore up the order and said that the demonstration will not end until both Anon and Panupong have been released. During the protest Parit played a recording of Anon’s speech on monarchy reform from the August 3 protest.

In court, Anon requested that the Court consider the objection against his temporary detention request, which was filed after official working hours and therefore unlawful. 8 Move Forward party MPs attended the out-of-hours court hearing and offered their positions as elected officials as security to post bail for the 2 men.

A crowd of around 50 people is also gathering at the Criminal Court to hear whether the Court will approve of the Police’s temporary detention request and whether Anon and Panupong would be granted bail.

The Criminal Court did not accept the temporary detention requests for the 2 men as the request was submitted outside of working hours and ordered the officers to bring them in for detention again within 48 hours.

Anon wrote a note and handed it to the media….

“I am willing to sacrifice my freedom to stand by my principles. I ask all of you to come out and fight for our goals. Don’t waste your time on freeing Anon. Use your time to fight for the goals we are fighting for.

As the Court refused the temporary detention requests, police officers can no longer hold them in custody. But police brought Anon and Panupong back to be held at the Samranrat Police Station.

Around 11.30pm, Police officers forced Anon and Panupong into a police van to be detained at Samranrat Police Station to wait for another court hearing. The assembled crowd were shouting “stop abducting citizens”.

The superintendent of the Huai Khwang Police Station informed the crowd that Anon and Panupong would be held overnight at the police station.

The pair attended another court hearing this morning at 8am.

SOURCE: Prachatai

A night of drama as 2 protesters face court in Bangkok over "sedition" charges | News by Thaiger

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