Pro-democracy activist Parit Chiwarak, aka, “Penguin”, has been handed an additional 15 days’ detention for contempt of court. The leader of the Ratsadon group is already being held at Bangkok Remand Prison on other charges. The new ruling relates to a March 15 incident, in which Parit tried to read a statement at the end of a court hearing, during which he threatened to go on hunger strike if he and his fellow activists were not granted bail.
It’s understood the latest ruling originally sentenced him to a further month in detention, but this was reduced to 15 days due to Parit’s guilty plea and the fact that he is a student without any prior convictions.
Thai PBS World reports that, during the hearing, Parit was shown video footage of his attempts to read his statement after his bail request was denied, with officers’ attempts to restrain him leading to a brief skirmish and the judges walking out of the courtroom.
Parit’s lawyer, Kritsadang Nutcharas, responded by telling the hearing that his client was upset his mother was not allowed to visit him and by the fact that his multiple requests for bail had been denied. According to the report, Parit arrived at the hearing in a wheelchair and appeared tired. He said he didn’t want to cause trouble and has no regrets about being detained but is simply appealing for justice.
Following Parit’s hearing, a letter of complaint written by Anon Nampa was the subject of a court inquiry that afternoon. In the letter, the human rights lawyer and pro-democracy activist, who is also being held at Bangkok Remand Prison, expresses concern at attempts to remove activists from their cells late at night.
Officials claim the detainees needed to be taken for Covid-19 testing. However, 2 of the activists, Chatupat Boonpatthararaksa (“Pai Dao Din”) and Panupong Jadnok (“Mike Rayong”), were suspicious of why such screening would be done late at night, fearing that they might be hurt if they agreed to leave their cell.
The Corrections Department insists doing such screening late at night is normal practice in prisons and that other detainees could witness the practice. Spokesman Veerakit Harnpripan says this was the first time detainees refused to be screened.
The court is expected to rule on March 29.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World
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