Bangkok court fines activists 11,200 baht issues suspended

The Pathumwan District Court in Bangkok handed down a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, to prominent political figures Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, Pannika Wanich, Pita Limjaroenrat and Pairatthachot Chanthakachorn along with four others, in connection with their involvement in a flash mob protest in December 2019. Each defendant was also fined 11,200 baht for violating public assembly laws and using loudspeakers without permission.

The court yesterday found all eight defendants guilty of organising a public assembly without notifying the authorities at least 24 hours in advance, holding a public gathering within 150 metres of the royal palace, causing obstruction to traffic, and creating inconvenience to the public. The case, initially filed by the public prosecutor of the Pathumwan District Court, revolved around a peaceful demonstration at the Skywalk intersection in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre on December 14, 2019.

The defendants, who appeared in court with their legal representation, faced charges under the Public Assembly Act, which stipulates the rules for organising public gatherings. As part of the act, organisers are required to prevent excessively obstructing the public or causing unreasonable disturbance or inconvenience. They were also charged under the law controlling the use of loudspeakers in public areas.

The protest, deemed as a flash mob, was one of the many that had taken place across Thailand, reflecting a surge in political activism, particularly among young people and students who have been calling for more democracy and reforms in the country. The decision by the court reflects ongoing tensions between the government and opposition groups, as Thailand continues to grapple with discussions around freedom of assembly and expression.

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The sentences come amidst an increasingly charged political atmosphere, with public demonstrations highlighting the push for change in the Thai political landscape. The ruling has been noted by observers as a significant moment, signalling the judiciary’s standpoint on public gatherings and the limitations set by existing laws.

This legal development has sparked widespread interest and debate within Thailand, as it touches upon the sensitive topics of free speech and the right to protest, which are cornerstones of democratic societies. The court’s decision is expected to have broader implications for future public demonstrations and the actions of political activists in Thailand.

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The individuals involved are well-known opposition figures who have been vocal critics of the Thai government. Their roles in political movements have been closely monitored by both supporters and authorities. Thanathorn, a former leader of the now-dissolved Future Forward Party, has been a particularly influential voice in pushing for political reform.

As the convicted individuals and their supporters process the judgment, it is clear that this ruling will further contribute to the ongoing discourse on civil liberties in Thailand. The outcome of this case is likely to influence the strategies of political activists and may shape the nature of future protests in the country, reported KhaoSod.

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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