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Anti-coup activist acquitted of sedition, cybercrime charges

Jack Burton

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Anti-coup activist acquitted of sedition, cybercrime charges | Thaiger
PHOTO: Arnaud Dubus

A pro-democracy activist was acquitted today of sedition and cybercrime charges for criticising the ruling junta back in 2014. He was accused of violating Section 116 of the Criminal Code and the Computer Crime Act by posting messages against the 2014 coup that deposed PM Yingluck Shinawatra. The messages were posted between May 30 and June 4, 2015, when martial law was in effect and criticising the government was illegal.

In its verdict handed down today, the court said 52 year old Sombat Boon-ngamanon didn’t violate sedition laws as he was merely expressing his political opinions and no one protested as a result of his actions. The charge was filed against him by the junta regime – the National Council for Peace and Order – shortly after it seized power in May 2014.

“I’m glad since I’ve been fighting for this for 6 years. This verdict is not only for me. It will set the precedent for future coups that people can rightfully express their opinions and criticise coup-makers.”

Sombat was arrested on the night of June 2014 and arraigned in a military court an intelligence agency was able to track him by his IP address, which he used to post anti-junta messages on social media. He was later granted bail on a 600,000 baht bond on the condition that he refrain from political activities.

Sombat says he’ll hand out free meals at McDonald’s San Kamphaeng branch in Chiang Mai on Sunday to celebrate the ruling.

He still faces indictment in another sedition case for his protest in May 2014, in which he defied the junta’s ban on assembly and called for an election 2 days after Prayut Chan-ocha staged a coup against an elected government.

Known for his humorous political gimmicks, he tried to register the “Troll Party” to run in the 2019 general elections but was rejected by the Election Commission on the grounds that the name was inappropriate.

Sombat has been campaigning for more democratic rule since the 2006 coup that deposed PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

SOURCES: Khaosod English | Nation Thailand

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Crime

Immigration police arrest Frenchman on drug charges, 3 other foreigners for overstay

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Immigration police arrest Frenchman on drug charges, 3 other foreigners for overstay | Thaiger

Immigration police arrested a French man who was allegedly involved in a crime network who allegedly smuggled cannabis, and arrested 3 other foreigners on overstay charges. Police say the crime network sold cannabis to foreigners living in tourist cities in Thailand.

Officers say they suspect there are more people involved in the alleged smuggling operation on the Eastern seaboard, which includes Chon Buri and Rayong. Police are now launching an investigation.

Police were tipped off earlier this year about an alleged French gang selling cannabis to tourists. Apparently, the drug suspects would rent rooms to store the cannabis and frequently change locations. Foreigners had rented a room off a soi in Bangkok, but the manager noticed they were acting suspicious. No one appeared to actually be living in the room and people would stop by the room for less than an hour, the manager told police.

Police arrested a man who was stopping by the room. Officers say the 28 year old, identified as Samy, had a suitcase filled with dried cannabis and scales. He faces charges for possession and distribution of a Category 5 narcotic.

The police went to the man’s apartment in the Charoen Nakhon area and arrested 2 French nationals, ages 27 and 28, and a 29 year old woman from the UK for overstaying their visas. Police say they had thrown cannabis and smoking equipment out the window before officers entered the room.

SOURCE: Thai Visa

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Crime

Thailand hoping to be upgraded to a Tier 1 nation in anti-human trafficking efforts

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Thailand hoping to be upgraded to a Tier 1 nation in anti-human trafficking efforts | Thaiger
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Thailand is hoping its newest anti-human trafficking report will earn an upgrade from the US from Tier 2 to Tier 1. The report was submitted to the Washington’s Trafficking in Persons Report. Deputy government spokeswoman, Rachada Dhnadirek, said the government is ready to be upgraded after remaining on Tier 2 for 3 years in a row. Those nations who fall on the Tier 2, are deemed to not be fully complying with the minimum standards set out in the US’ Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Those on the Tier 2, however, are supposed to be making efforts to comply with the minimum standards.

Before 2018, Thailand was placed in Tier 3, which is for nations who don’t fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making efforts to do so. Then, Thailand was upgraded to Tier 2 after making progress compared to the previous year.

Rachada says Thailand submitted the 2020 TIP Report on February 2 and a report on progress in its anti-human trafficking operations from January to March of this year to the US embassy on April 3. The data includes the number of arrests and punishments for human-trafficking offences. Thailand also has created a new plan, making it the first in Asia to introduce such a plan. That plan is called the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.

Rachada says now Thailand is processing human trafficking cases more quickly by shortening the investigation time to 70 days as of last year. In 2015, the investigation time was 118 days. She says the country has also set up centres to help LGBT human-trafficking victims as well as helping migrant workers with work-related issues.

Thailand has also introduced the PROTECT-U app for smartphones in which human-trafficking victims can access protection and launch complaints in 7 different languages. The app was developed by the Social Development and Human Security Ministry.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Phuket man shot by off-duty police officer now paralysed

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Phuket man shot by off-duty police officer now paralysed | Thaiger
Phuket Police Station / Google Maps

A 25 year old Phuket man who was allegedly beaten and shot by an off-duty, drunken police officer, will never walk again as he remains paralysed in the hospital. The news, according to doctors at Vachira Phuket Hospital, comes after Aroon Thongplab, was shot from a close range, with the bullet hitting his spine.

The man was a noodle vendor and was collecting a bowl from a customer on Bangla Road when he was allegedly shot by Pornthep Channarong of the Phuket Provincial Police at around 6am. Doctors told his wife about his prognosis after he woke up from a coma and underwent surgery to increase his prospects of being able to sit up. His wife, who is only known by her surname as Kulthida, told The Phuket News that she received news that he would never walk again.

“He cannot feel or move the lower part from his waist. Doctors just gave him spine surgery last week, so that he can sit. However, the doctors cannot assure that the surgery will work. We have to wait to see if his recovery goes well along with physiotherapy.”

Pornthep was discharged from the Royal Thai Police less than a day after he allegedly shot the noodle vendor. Now, he is facing charges of attempted murder, firing a weapon in a public area, and carrying a firearm in a public area without a necessary reason. But those charges have come slowly, according to Kulthida.

“I have already asked Patong Police, and they told me that at this stage the report to file (with the public prosecutor) is about 90% complete. I am also waiting for a notice from the court. Today, officers from Region 8 Police came to the hospital to question Aroon, but he has not been able to speak… I asked them about the bail conditions, and they told me that the suspect is still in jail.”

The Phuket Provincial Court is allowing Pornthep to go out on bail, despite the Royal Thai Police asking the court to keep in locked up.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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