Protesters urge army to oppose Thaksin’s bail request

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Protest groups called on the Royal Thai Army to oppose an anticipated bail request by former premier Thaksin Shinawatra when he reports to prosecutors to acknowledge his indictment on lese majeste and computer crime charges next week.

Members of the Network of Students and People Reforming Thailand and Thai People Protecting the Monarchy marched to the army headquarters yesterday, submitting a formal petition.

The groups urged the army to resist any bail request Thaksin is expected to make when he meets prosecutors to officially acknowledge his indictment on charges related to Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law, on June 18.

These charges stem from an interview Thaksin gave to a South Korean newspaper in 2015 concerning the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) coup, which deposed the Yingluck Shinawatra administration on May 22, 2014. His comments allegedly contained critical and offensive remarks about the monarchy.

Thaksin has denied these charges, claiming that his interview was misrepresented to implicate him.

Pichit Chaimongkol, a protest leader, expressed concerns that Thaksin could interfere with evidence if granted bail.

“Thaksin poses a flight risk.”

Pichit referenced Thaksin’s escape from Thailand in 2008, shortly before the Supreme Court convicted him for assisting his then-wife, Khunying Potjaman Na Pombejra, in purchasing prime land at a discount during his tenure as prime minister.

However, Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong noted that the army is not the official investigator in this case and thus cannot intervene.

Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang reiterated that the army has no involvement in Thaksin’s lese majeste case, which was brought by the NCPO, despite the use of the army’s administrative mechanisms in legal proceedings.

“We have to let justice take its course, and the charge be fought in a court of law.”

On May 29, the attorney-general charged Thaksin with lese majeste and computer crime offences over his 2015 remarks. The computer crime charge relates to Thaksin allegedly importing information into a computer system that threatened national security, according to Prayut Phetcharakhun, a spokesman for the Office of the Attorney-General, reported Bangkok Post.

Prosecutors were unable to prosecute Thaksin as planned on May 29 due to his alleged contraction of Covid-19.

ORIGINAL STORY: Thaksin Shinawatra to face monarchy insult charges in Thailand

Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister of Thailand, announced his readiness to confront charges of insulting the monarchy. The announcement came yesterday, with Thaksin expressing confidence about facing the allegations head-on.

The former Thai PM confirmed his intention to meet with prosecutors tomorrow and stated to reporters that he was prepared to fight the case.

“It’s nothing. The case is baseless.”

On May 29, the attorney general indicted Thaksin on charges of royal defamation under Section 112 of the Criminal Code and computer crime charges. These charges stem from an interview he gave to a Korean newspaper on February 21, 2015.

The computer crime charge accuses Thaksin of inputting information into a computer system that was considered a threat to national security.

Initially, prosecutors were unable to arraign Thaksin on May 29 due to his lawyer’s statement that Thaksin had contracted Covid-19 and needed to rest. He has since recovered from the illness.

Thaksin is accused of defaming the monarchy during his interview with the Chosun Ilbo newspaper, where he claimed that privy councillors supported the 2014 coup that ousted his younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, from power.

At 74 years old, Thaksin denies any wrongdoing and has consistently pledged loyalty to the crown. Criticism of the monarchy is strictly prohibited under Thai law, which is one of the harshest of its kind globally.

Thaksin’s case is the most prominent among over 270 prosecutions in the past four years under the royal defamation law, which imposes a maximum jail term of 15 years for each perceived insult against the royal family.

The initial complaint regarding Thaksin’s interview was filed in 2015 by General Udomdej Sitabutr, who was then the deputy defence minister in the military government led by General Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Gen. Udomdej ordered the Judge Advocate General’s Department to initiate legal action against Thaksin. Consequently, the Office of the Attorney General filed a lawsuit, and the Criminal Court accepted the case for trial in 2015, issuing an arrest warrant for Thaksin, who was abroad at the time, reported Bangkok Post.

Thaksin returned to Thailand in August last year and was subsequently sentenced to eight years in prison for abuse of authority and conflict of interest during his tenure from 2001 to 2006.

This sentence was later reduced to one year on a royal pardon. Notably, Thaksin did not spend a single night behind bars, as he was granted parole after spending six months at the Police General Hospital.

Bangkok NewsPolitics NewsThailand News

Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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