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Detained protest leaders taken out of their cells at 2am for Covid-19 testing, Justice Ministry says



PHOTO: ฮินะจังปลดแอก / Wikimedia

The Ministry of Justice has denied that there were any sinister motives behind prison officers’ late-night attempts to remove 3 detained protest leaders from their cells. Fellow detainee and human rights lawyer, Anon Nampa, claims the multiple attempts to remove the activists, the latest of which took place at 2am, constituted intimidation. However, the ministry insists prison officers were attempting to take the activists for Covid-19 testing only.

Wallop Nakbua, from the ministry, accuses the activists of refusing to be separated for testing, which is standard procedure following their transfer from Thonburi prison to Bangkok Remand Prison. He says Covid screening of all newly-arrived prisoners is in accordance with guidelines from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration since the discovery of a new cluster of infections in the Bang Khae district of the capital.

The activists in question are Panupong Jadnok, also known as, “Mike Rayong”, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, aka, “Pai Daodin”, and Piyarat Chongthep, aka, “Toto”. Wallop says that, following their transfer from Thonburi, they were only quarantined for 7 days, not 14, and therefore needed to be tested for Covid-19, as was done with the other detainees in their cell.

Anon and other fellow activists, suspicious about why Covid testing would be happening so late at night, managed to stop the attempted removal of the detainees. Wallop says the screening started at 11pm due to how long it took officials to prepare the space and equipment needed.

According to a Thai PBS World report, he goes on to say the activists were not harmed in any way, as claimed by Anon. He defends the prison officers, saying they were just trying to follow procedures and if there was a Covid outbreak due to improper screening, officers would have a riot on their hands.

Anon insists the activists’ lives would have been in danger if officers had been allowed to remove them from their cells so late at night. Following the incident, their lawyer, Krisdang Nutcharat, again requested bail for the detained activists but it was once again refused.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World


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